Estimating the risk of arbovirus transmission in Southern europe using vector competence data

Abstract : Arboviral diseases such as chikungunya, dengue, and Zika viruses have been threatening the European countries since the introduction in 1979 of the major vector Aedes albopictus. In 2017, more than three hundred of CHIKV autochthonous cases were reported in Italy, highlighting the urgent need for a risk assessment of arboviral diseases in European countries. In this study, the vector competence for three major arboviruses were analyzed in eight Ae. albopictus populations from europe. Here we show that Southern european Ae. albopictus were susceptible to CHIKV, DENV-1 and ZIKV with the highest vector competence for CHIKV. Based on vector competence data and vector distribution, a prediction risk map for CHIKV was generated stressing the fear of CHIKV and to a lesser extent, of other arboviruses for Europe, calling us for new public health strategies. Recent epidemics involving several arboviral diseases such as chikungunya (CHIKV), dengue (DENV) and Zika (ZIKV) have received global attention as major public health issues 1,2. The Aedes spp. mosquitoes, main vectors of these arboviruses, have extended their distribution owing to human activities (trade and travels) and climate change; they are no longer restricted to tropical regions and have initiated the invasion of European regions 3-6. Although Europe was not considered prone to arboviral diseases, the presence of newly introduced competent mosquitoes coupled to a growing number of imported cases 7 led to local transmissions of chikungunya and den-gue fever in Croatia 8,9 , France 10-14 , and Italy 15. The 2017 CHIKV outbreak in Italy was attributed to few incident cases in Anzio in June, subsequently spreading to Guardavalle Marina later and to Rome in October. A total of 337 infections were reported, 61 of which occurred in the capital city of Rome 16. This outbreak exemplifies that the presence of Ae. albopictus in Italy favors the occurrence of CHIKV epidemics 16. Mosquitoes are able to transmit arboviruses by acquiring a viremic blood meal from an infected host. Along with blood, the ingested virus enters in the mosquito midgut and infects the epithelial cells that may in turn disseminate the virus to the mosquito internal tissues or organs. After the extrinsic incubation period (EIP) 17-19 , the virus may reach the salivary glands where the viral cycle in the vector ends up with the virus transmitted to the host by the mosquito saliva 20. The virus efficiency to cross each anatomical barrier (midgut and salivary glands) depends on several genetic or biological factors regulating mosquito antiviral immunity 21. Geographic populations of a same mosquito species may not share the same immunological background, leading to varying susceptibilities to transmit arboviruses 22. A vector competence analysis of European Ae. albopictus populations is critical for assessing the risk of arbovi-ral diseases outbreaks as the establishment of competent mosquitoes can become the breeding ground for various arboviruses. To this aim, we collected eight European Ae. albopictus populations from Croatia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, and Switzerland, and experimentally infected them with three arboviruses, CHIKV (Alphavirus, Togaviridae), and DENV and ZIKV (Flavivirus, Flaviviridae). Based on data obtained, we elaborated a vector competence data-driven prediction for CHIKV transmission using computational modeling to assist in evaluating the current risk of arboviral diseases transmission in Southern Europe.
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Marina Mariconti, Thomas Obadia, Laurence Mousson, Anna Malacrida, Giuliano Gasperi, et al.. Estimating the risk of arbovirus transmission in Southern europe using vector competence data. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2019, 9 (1), pp.17852. ⟨10.1038/s41598-019-54395-5⟩. ⟨pasteur-02434652⟩

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