Birds as Reservoir Hosts for West Nile Virus in Montana
West Nile virus (WNV) was first observed in the United States on the east coast in 1999. WNV is an arbovirus, meaning that it is stored in the tissues of arthropods and is then transmitted via a bite to vertebrates who become infected. Birds are vertebrates, and they then serve as vector reservoir hosts for the virus. They can transmit the virus to other vertebrates as well as back to arthropods. It was through birds that WNV quickly spread across the country, and we need to evaluate which birds are likely to transmit the virus and what living conditions they prefer. In this study, four regions of Montana were chosen for mosquito collection and bird observation. At each region there were at least two trap sites, one having canopy cover and the other open sky. Data were collected via both auditory and visual observations of birds. The results of this study indicate that Passerine bird species were found more often overall in Non-Canopy areas as well as regionally around Helena.