West Nile virus (family Flaviviridae, genus Flavivirus, WNV) was first detected in the Tennessee Valley and in Alabama in August 2001. In summer 2002, intensive viral activity was seen, but in subsequent years, viral activity settled into an enzootic pattern. Here, we report an analysis of viral activity in the mosquito fauna in the Mid-South from 2002 (the first year viral activity was detected in mosquitoes) through 2005. Eight mosquito species were infected with WNV during 2002. However, viral activity was only detected in four species—Culex salinarius Coquillett, Culex erraticus Dyar & Knab, Coquillettidia perturbans Walker, and Aedes vexans Meigen—in multiple years. The greatest number of positive pools was in Cx. erraticus and Cx. salinarius. Despite being specifically targeted for collection, Aedes albopictus Skuse was only found to be infected during the epiornitic year (2002), suggesting that under enzootic transmission conditions its role as a bridge vector in the region may not be significant. Virus-positive pools of Cx. erraticus were identified from winter-resting and early season dry ice-baited trap collections in 2005, implicating this species in WNV overwintering in Alabama. Molecular analysis of individuals initially identified as members of the Culex pipiens L. complex suggested that alleles characteristic of Cx. pipiens predominated in mosquitoes collected in Huntsville, AL, whereas alleles in the Auburn, AL, population were predominately characteristic of Culex quinquefaciatus Say. The southern boundary of the overlap zone of the two species seems to be located primarily between Huntsville and Auburn, a distance of 350 km.
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Vol. 44 • No. 1