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Published Online: 16 December 2021

Host Associations of Culex pipiens: A Two-Year Analysis of Bloodmeal Sources and Implications for Arboviral Transmission in Southeastern Virginia

Publication: Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Volume 21, Issue Number 12

Abstract

Understanding vector-host interactions is crucial for evaluating the role of mosquito species in enzootic cycling and epidemic/epizootic transmission of arboviruses, as well as assessing vertebrate host contributions to maintenance and amplification in different virus foci. To investigate blood-feeding pattern of Culex pipiens, engorged mosquitoes were collected on a weekly basis at 50 sites throughout Suffolk, Virginia, using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention miniature light traps, BG-Sentinel traps, and modified Reiter gravid traps. Vertebrate hosts of mosquitoes were identified by amplifying and sequencing portions of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. Of 281 Cx. pipiens bloodmeals successfully identified to species, 255 (90.7%) contained solely avian blood, 13 (4.6%) mammalian, 1 (0.4%) reptilian, and 12 (4.3%) both avian and mammalian blood. Nineteen avian species were identified as hosts for Cx. pipiens with American robin (n = 141, 55.3% of avian hosts) and northern cardinal (n = 57, 22.4%) as the most common hosts. More American robin feedings took place in areas of higher development. Three mammalian species were also identified as hosts for Cx. pipiens with Virginia opossum and domestic cat as the most common hosts in this class (each n = 6, 46.2% of mammalian hosts). There was no significant seasonal difference in the proportion of bloodmeals obtained from avian hosts, but there was a decrease in the proportion of bloodmeals from mammalian hosts from spring to fall. One engorged specimen of Cx. pipiens with Virginia opossum-derived bloodmeal tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV), and another with black-and-white warbler-derived bloodmeal tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis virus. Our findings, in conjunction with the results of vector competence studies and virus isolation from field-collected mosquitoes, lend additional support that Cx. pipiens serves as the principal enzootic vector and potential epizootic/epidemic vector of WNV in southeastern Virginia.

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Published In

cover image Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Volume 21Issue Number 12December 2021
Pages: 961 - 972
PubMed: 34665047

History

Published online: 16 December 2021
Published in print: December 2021
Published ahead of print: 18 October 2021

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Noelle Khalil
Department of Environmental Sciences, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Center for Vector Biology & Zoonotic Diseases, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Eliza A.H. Little
Center for Vector Biology & Zoonotic Diseases, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Department of Entomology, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Karen I. Akaratovic
Suffolk Mosquito Control, Department of Public Works, Suffolk, Virginia, USA.
Jay P. Kiser
Suffolk Mosquito Control, Department of Public Works, Suffolk, Virginia, USA.
Charles F. Abadam
Suffolk Mosquito Control, Department of Public Works, Suffolk, Virginia, USA.
Karen J. Yuan
Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Michael J. Misencik
Department of Environmental Sciences, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Center for Vector Biology & Zoonotic Diseases, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Philip M. Armstrong
Department of Environmental Sciences, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Center for Vector Biology & Zoonotic Diseases, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Goudarz Molaei [email protected]
Department of Environmental Sciences, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Center for Vector Biology & Zoonotic Diseases, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

Notes

Address correspondence to: Goudarz Molaei, Department of Environmental Sciences, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, 123 Huntington Street, PO Box 1106, New Haven, CT 06504, USA [email protected]

Author Disclosure Statement

No competing financial interests exist.

Funding Information

Funding for this research project was, in part, provided by Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Disease Cooperative Agreement Number U50/CCU6806-01-1 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This publication was also funded, in part, by the City of Suffolk, Virginia, Public Works Department. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of authors and do not necessarily represent the official positions of the funding agencies.

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