Multiple mosquito-borne parasites cocirculate in nature and potentially interact. To understand the community of parasites cocirculating with West Nile virus (WNV), we screened the bloodmeal content of Culex pipiens L. mosquitoes for three common types of hemoparasites. Blood-fed Cx. pipiens were collected from a WNV-epidemic area in suburban Chicago, IL, from May to September 2005 through 2010. DNA was extracted from dissected abdomens and subject to PCR and direct sequencing to identify the vertebrate host. RNA was extracted from the head or thorax and screened for WNV using quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR. Seventy-nine engorged females with avian host origin were screened using PCR and amplicon sequencing for filarioid nematodes, Haemosporida, and trypanosomatids. Filarioid nematodes were identified in 3.8% of the blooded abdomens, Plasmodium sp. in 8.9%, Haemoproteus in 31.6%, and Trypanosoma sp. in 6.3%. The sequences from these hemoparasite lineages were highly similar to sequences from birds in prior studies in suburban Chicago. Overall, 50.6% of blood-fed Culex pipiens contained hemoparasite DNA in their abdomen, presumably from current or prior bloodmeals. Additionally, we detected hemoparasite DNA in the blooded abdomen of three of 10 Cx. pipiens infected with WNV.
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Vol. 52 • No. 3