Mosquitoes identified as female Culex (Culex) species, primarily mixtures or uniform batches of Culex pipiens and Culex restuans, were collected daily from gravid traps by 2 mosquito abatement districts (MADs) in Cook County, Illinois. From 2002 through 2004, batches (pools) of mosquitoes were tested by the MADs for West Nile virus (WNV) by using VecTest™ WNV antigen assays and the same samples were retested, usually within 1–2 wk, for WNV RNA by the TaqMan™ reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). There were 952 TaqMan-positive pools out of 3,953 pools over the 3 years, and about one half of that number were VecTest-positive. The difference between the 2 detection assays varied between and within years. The VecTest assays detected about 57% and 69% of the TaqMan RT-PCR–positive pools from Des Plaines Valley MAD and Northwest MAD in 2002, but only about 40% and 46% in 2003, and 36% and 55% in 2004, respectively. Based on a subset of the 2004 data, a linear relationship was found between VecTest detection of WNV and TaqMan cycle threshold between 18 and 28 cycles. A temporal decrease in the difference between the 2 assays was observed in 2003 and 2004, which we conjecture is due, at least partially, to a seasonal decline in the proportion of recently infected mosquitoes. This trend was not observed in 2002 because infection rates indicated a high likelihood of more than 1 infected mosquito per pool at the peak of transmission. Unlike a previous study, the 95% confidence intervals of infection rates based on the 2 detection methods did not always overlap. The highest infection rates occurred in 2002 when mean monthly temperatures were above average.
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Vol. 22 • No. 1