Vector competence of Aedes punctor (Kirby, 1837) for West Nile virus lineages 1 and 2

West Nile virus (WNV) is a zoonotic mosquito-borne flavivirus that occurs globally. WNV circulates in an endemic cycle between birds and mosquitoes, but can also be transmitted to mammals such as humans and horses. Knowledge of the vector competence of mosquito species is crucial for effective WNV surveillance and management. The snow-melt mosquito *Aedes punctor* is common in Europe and could be a potential vector of WNV to humans due to its broad host preference. Since studies on the vector competence of this species are lacking, we conducted an experiment on the vector competence of *Aedes punctor* for WNV. Field collected pupae were reared to adults and infected with WNV via an infectious blood meal. Blood-fed females were sorted and incubated for 14 and 21 days, respectively. Surviving mosquitoes were dissected and forced to salivate. Mosquito bodies, legs plus wings and saliva were analysed for WNV RNA by RT-qPCR. For WNV lineage 1, two infected mosquito bodies were detected (2/70; 2.86%), one of which had disseminated infection in legs plus wings. In mosquitoes infected with WNV lineage 2, RNA was found in five mosquito bodies (5/85; 5.88%), one of them with a disseminated infection. Viral RNA was not detected in any of the saliva samples. In summary, *Aedes punctor* showed a low susceptibility to WNV infection, and no evidence of possible WNV transmission was observed. Our results suggest that *Aedes punctor* is not a competent vector species for WNV.


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