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ASTMH: Researchers Examine Buggy Creek Virus Reservoirs

Size and activity of cliff swallow colonies affects prevalence of infectious Buggy Creek virus

FRIDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The characteristics of cliff swallow colonies and the cimicid parasites that infect the birds can predict the spatial foci of Buggy Creek virus (BCRV) epidemics in the U.S. midwest, according to research presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

In 2004, Nicholas Komar, Sc.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues investigated 100 bug pools at 14 different cliff swallow colonies in southwestern Nebraska.

The researchers found that 26.7 percent of the bug pools tested positive for BCRV, with 15.6 percent showing cytopathic (infectious) virus and 11 percent non-cytopathic (non-infectious) viral RNA.

"The prevalence of cytopathic BCRV increased with cliff swallow colony size in the current year; the percentage of non-cytopathic samples at a site did not vary with colony size in the current year but increased with the previous year's colony size at a site," the authors write. "Active colony sites (those used by swallows) had higher percentages of cytopathic BCRV in bug pools than at inactive colony sites, but the reverse held for non-cytopathic viral RNA. Nests that were occupied by birds at some time in the season had more pools with cytopathic BCRV than did inactive nests."

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