Avian influenza viruses (AIVs) are distributed globally in members of the family Anatidae (waterfowl), and significant disease may occur when these viruses infect commercial poultry or humans. Early detection of AIV through surveillance of wild waterfowl is one measure to prevent future disease outbreaks. Surveillance efforts that are designed to account for host and environmental determinants of susceptibility to infection are likely to be most effective. However, these determinants have not been clearly delineated and may vary with location. Because some regions are at greater risk for AIV outbreaks, the factors that contribute to AIV infection of waterfowl in these areas are of interest. We investigated the prevalence of AIVs in hunter-killed waterfowl at wintering sites in California's Central Valley. Overall, AIV prevalence was 10.5% and, after controlling for age and sex, was greatest in northern shovelers (Spatula clypeata) and lowest in wood ducks (Aix sponsa). Overall, AIV prevalence was higher in females than in males, but this trend was driven by one sampling year and one waterfowl species (green-winged teal, Anas crecca). AIV prevalence in waterfowl was lower in samples collected from brackish wetlands compared with those collected from freshwater wetlands, suggesting that wetland type or other environmental factors contribute to AIV prevalence. This study adds to our understanding of the ecology of AIV infection in waterfowl and may assist in developing more efficient, targeted surveillance efforts for the detection of potentially harmful viruses circulating in North American waterfowl.

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