Multiple infections, or simultaneous infection of a host with multiple parasites, are the rule rather than the exception. Interactions between co-occurring pathogens in a population may be mutualistic, competitive or facilitative. For some pathogen combinations, these interrelated effects will have epidemiological consequences; however this is as yet poorly incorporated into practical disease ecology. For example, screening of Mallards for influenza A viruses (IAV) have repeatedly revealed high prevalence and large subtype diversity in the Northern Hemisphere. Other studies have identified avian paramyxovirus type 1 (APMV-1) and coronaviruses (CoVs) in Mallards, but without making inferences on the larger viral assemblage. In this study we followed 144 wild Mallards across an autumn season in a natural stopover site and constructed infection histories of IAV, APMV-1 and CoV. There was a high prevalence of IAV, comprising of 27 subtype combinations, while APMV-1 had a comparatively low prevalence (with a peak of 2%) and limited strain variation, similar to previous findings. Avian CoVs were common, with prevalence up to 12%, and sequence analysis identified different putative genetic lineages. An investigation of the dynamics of co-infections revealed a synergistic effect between CoV and IAV, whereby CoV prevalence was higher given that the birds were co-infected with IAV. There were no interactive effects between IAV and APMV-1. Disease dynamics are the result of an interplay between parasites, host immune responses, and resources; and is imperative that we begin to include all factors to better understand infectious disease risk.
2015. Vol. 29, 129-137 p.