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Vector Competence of German Aedes punctor (Kirby, 1837) for West Nile Virus Lineages 1 and 2

West Nile virus (WNV) is a zoonotic flavivirus transmitted by mosquitoes as a biological vector. Because of its biting behavior, the widespread snow-melt mosquito Aedes punctor could be a potential bridge vector for WNV to humans and nonhuman mammals. However, little is known on its role in transmission of WNV. The aim of this study was to determine the vector competence of German Ae. punctor for WNV lineages 1 and 2. Field-collected larvae and pupae were reared to adults and offered infectious blood containing either an Italian WNV lineage 1 or a German WNV lineage 2 strain via cotton stick feeding. Engorged females were incubated for 14/15 or 21 days at 18 °C. After incubation; surviving mosquitoes were dissected and forced to salivate. Mosquito bodies with abdomens, thoraces and heads, legs plus wings and saliva samples were investigated for WNV RNA by RT-qPCR. Altogether, 2/70 (2.86%) and 5/85 (5.88%) mosquito bodies were found infected with WNV lineage 1 or 2, respectively. In two mosquitoes, viral RNA was also detected in legs and wings. No saliva sample contained viral RNA. Based on these results, we conclude that Ae. punctor does not play an important role in WNV transmission in Germany.


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