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Volume 10, Number 12—December 2004

Dispatch

Detecting West Nile Virus in Owls and Raptors by an Antigen-capture Assay

Ady Y. Gancz*Comments to Author , Douglas G. Campbell*, Ian K. Barker*, Robbin Lindsay†, and Bruce Hunter*
Author affiliations: *University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada; †Canadian Science Center for Human and Animal Health, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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Table

RT-PCR results and sensitivity of the VecTest assay in 19 species of North American owls and raptors tested for West Nile virusa

RT-PCR
VecTest
OP swab
Cloacal swab
Combinedb
Species N No. positive N Sn (%) N Sn (%) N Sn (%)
Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)c 19 17 19 100.0 19 100.0 19 100.0
Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)c 16 16 16 100.0 15 93.3 15 100.0
Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus)c 13 10 13 80.0 13 90.0 13 90.0
Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)c 12 10 12 100.0 12 100.0 12 100.0
Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)c 9 9 9 88.9 9 77.8 9 88.9
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) 10 8 10 62.5 4 50.0 4 50.0
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) 3 2 3 50.0 3 50.0 3 50.0
Long-eared Owls (Asio otus) 3 1 3 100.0 3 100.0 3 100.0
Barred Owl (Strix varia) 2 0 2 2 2
Northern Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium gnoma) 1 1 1 0.0 1 0.0 1 0.0
Flammulated Owl (Otus flammeolus) 1 1 1 0.0 1 0.0 1 0.0
Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) 1 1 1 0.0 1 100 1 100
Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) 2 0 2 2 2
Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) 1 0 1 1 1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) 1 0 1 1 1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) 19 11 19 36.4 0 –- 0
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) 2 1 2 0.0 0 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) 4 1 4 100.0 0 0
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) 1 0 1 0 0
Total 120 89 120 77.5 86 88.4 86 91.4

aRT-PCR, real-time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction; OP, oropharyngeal; N, sample size; Sn, sensitivity.
bResults of oropharyngeal and cloacal swab testing were considered in parallel (i.e., the bird was considered positive if one of the two tests was positive).
cNorthern owl species.

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