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European Aedes caspius mosquitoes are experimentally unable to transmit Zika virus

Abstract : Background: Aedes caspius (Pallas, 1771) is a floodwater mosquito species widely distributed in the Western Palae-arctic. As an anthropophilic species, its role as an arbovirus vector may be the key for understanding the transmission cycle of certain diseases in Europe such as Zika virus (ZIKV). Concerning vector competence for ZIKV, studies related to Ae. caspius are still scarce. ZIKV is an arbovirus that has provoked a widespread epidemic in the Pacific region (2007-2013) and in the Americas (2015-2016). ZIKV is associated with serious neurological injuries (e.g. microcephaly) and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Due to the ZIKV epidemics in the American continent, some viraemic travellers coming from endemic countries have been reported in Europe. More knowledge is therefore required to define the susceptibility of autochthonous mosquito species such as Ae. caspius for ZIKV in order to improve arbovirus surveillance and control programmes. In the present study, the vector competence of a European population of Ae. caspius was evaluated for two ZIKV lineages, the Suriname ZIKV strain (Asian lineage) and the MR766 ZIKV strain (African I lineage). Females were tested at 7, 14 and 21 days post-exposure (dpe) to infectious blood meals. An Ae. aegypti PAEA strain was used as a positive control. Results: Aedes caspius presented low susceptibility to ZIKV infection and the virus was only detected by RT-qPCR in body samples. Low viral loads were detected for the MR766 strain at 7 dpe and for the Suriname strain at 14 and 21 dpe. Aedes caspius was unable to produce a disseminated infection and virus transmission at any of the tested time points. Using Ae. aegypti PAEA strain, infection, dissemination and transmission rates were calculated for the Suriname ZIKV strain (Asian lineage) at each time point. For the MR766 ZIKV strain (African I lineage), while only infection rates were estimated at each time point, no dissemination or transmission were detected in either species. Conclusions: The results of the present study reveal that the tested Ae. caspius population has a strong midgut escape barrier that limits the dissemination or transmission of the virus. As such, it seems unlikely that European Ae. caspius mosquitoes could be involved in ZIKV transmission if ZIKV was introduced into Europe. This information may help in designing a better strategy to European surveillance and control programmes for ZIKV.
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Ana Núñez, Sandra Talavera, Carles Aranda, Lotty Birnberg, Raquel Rivas, et al.. European Aedes caspius mosquitoes are experimentally unable to transmit Zika virus. Parasites and Vectors, BioMed Central, 2019, 12 (1), pp.363. ⟨10.1186/s13071-019-3620-7⟩. ⟨pasteur-02241462⟩

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