Laboratory transmission potential of British mosquitoes for equine arboviruses


Chapman, Gail E. Sherlock, Ken Hesson, Jenny C. Blagrove, Marcus S.C. Lycett, Gareth J. Archer, Debra Solomon, Tom Baylis, Matthew


BACKGROUND: There has been no evidence of transmission of mosquito-borne arboviruses of equine or human health concern to date in the UK. However, in recent years there have been a number of outbreaks of viral diseases spread by vectors in Europe. These events, in conjunction with increasing rates of globalisation and climate change, have led to concern over the future risk of mosquito-borne viral disease outbreaks in northern Europe and have highlighted the importance of being prepared for potential disease outbreaks. Here we assess several UK mosquito species for their potential to transmit arboviruses important for both equine and human health, as measured by the presence of viral RNA in saliva at different time points after taking an infective blood meal. RESULTS: The following wild-caught British mosquitoes were evaluated for their potential as vectors of zoonotic equine arboviruses: Ochlerotatus detritus for Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) and Ross River virus (RRV), and Culiseta annulata and Culex pipiens for Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV). Production of RNA in saliva was demonstrated at varying efficiencies for all mosquito-virus pairs. Ochlerotatus detritus was more permissive for production of RRV RNA in saliva than VEEV RNA. For RRV, 27.3% of mosquitoes expectorated viral RNA at 7 days post-infection when incubated at 21 °C and 50% at 24 °C. Strikingly, 72% of Cx. pipiens produced JEV RNA in saliva after 21 days at 18 °C. For some mosquito-virus pairs, infection and salivary RNA titres reduced over time, suggesting unstable infection dynamics. CONCLUSIONS: This study adds to the number of Palaearctic mosquito species that demonstrate expectoration of viral RNA, for arboviruses of importance to human and equine health. This work adds to evidence that native mosquito species should be investigated further for their potential to vector zoonotic mosquito-borne arboviral disease of equines in northern Europe. The evidence that Cx. pipiens is potentially an efficient laboratory vector of JEV at temperatures as low as 18 °C warrants further investigation, as this mosquito is abundant in cooler regions of Europe and is considered an important vector for West Nile Virus, which has a comparable transmission ecology.


Parasites and Vectors

Research Themes:

4. Epidemiology and Risk Analysis