Incursions of Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus into northern Queensland are currently monitored using sentinel pigs. However, the maintenance of these pigs is expensive, and because pigs are the major amplifying hosts of the virus, they may contribute to JE transmission. Therefore, we evaluated a mosquito-based detection system to potentially replace the sentinel pigs. Single, inactivated JE-infected Culex annulirostris Skuse and C. sitiens Wiedemann were placed into pools of uninfected mosquitoes that were housed in a MosquitoMagnet Pro (MM) trap set under wet season field conditions in Cairns, Queensland for 0, 7, or 14 d. JE viral RNA was detected (cycling threshold [CT] = 40) in 11/12, 10/14, and 2/5 pools containing 200, 1,000, and 5,000 mosquitoes, respectively, using a TaqMan real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The ability to detect virus was not affected by the length of time pools were maintained under field conditions, although the CT score tended to increase with field exposure time. Furthermore, JE viral RNA was detected in three pools of 1,000 mosquitoes collected from Badu Island using a MM trap. These results indicated that a mosquito trap system employing self-powered traps, such as the MosquitoMagnet, and a real-time PCR system, could be used to monitor for JE in remote areas.
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