Detection of West Nile Virus in Mosquitoes of Montana through RT-PCR and TaqMan Assays and Correlation to Reservoir Competent Avian Populations
First emerging in the United States in 1999, and Montana in 2002, West Nile Virus (WNV) has had a significant impact on human and avian populations. Due to this significance, a greater understanding of the factors affecting the prevalence of WNV is necessary. Mosquitoes were collected from 27 locations across the state of Montana throughout the summer of 2009. RT-PCR and TaqMan assays were used to identify positive pools of mosquitoes, with three locations testing positive. As avian species serve as a reservoir for the virus, it is hypothesized that locations testing positive for WNV should have a greater presence of reservoir competent species. A contingency analysis was run to test for an association between the presence of avian competent species and WNV, resulting in a p-value of 0.425. These results do not establish a statistically significant correlation between presence of reservoir competent species and WNV. However, due to limitations, further analysis is necessary to determine if a significant correlation exists and if other factors are involved.