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Excretion Dynamics of Arboviruses in Mosquitoes and the Potential Use in Vector Competence Studies and Arbovirus Surveillance

The increasing threat of arboviruses such as West Nile virus (WNV) and Usutu virus (USUV) requires the fast and efficient surveillance of these viruses. The examination of mosquitoes takes up an important part; however, these investigations are usually very time-consuming. An alternative sample type for arbovirus surveillance might be mosquito excreta. In order to determine the excretion dynamics under laboratory conditions, laboratory colonies of Aedes vexans and Culex pipiens biotype molestus were infected with WNV, USUV or tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). After infection, the excreta were sampled and investigated for viral RNA. Excretion of viral RNA together with infectious blood meal could be detected up to five days after infection. Further excretion seemed to correlate with a disseminated infection in mosquitoes, at least after USUV infection. In addition, it could be determined that the amount of viral RNA in the excretions correlated positively with the viral load in the mosquito bodies. Overall, this study shows that the usage of mosquito excreta as a sample type for surveillance enables the detection of endemic viruses (WNV, USUV) as well as non-mosquito-borne viruses (TBEV). In addition, examination of viral shedding during vector competence studies can provide insights into the course of infection without sacrificing animals.



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