Rift Valley fever (RVF), a disease of ruminants and humans, has been responsible for large outbreaks in Africa that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of human infections and major economic disruption due to loss of livestock and to trade restrictions. As indicated by the rapid spread of West Nile viral activity across North America since its discovery in 1999 and the rapid and widespread movement of chikungunya virus from Africa throughout the Indian Ocean Islands to Asia and Europe, an introduced exotic arbovirus can be rapidly and widely established across wide geographical regions. Although RVF virus (RVFV) is normally transmitted by mosquitoes, we wanted to determine the potential for this virus to replicate in 2 of the most globally distributed and common higher flies: house flies, Musca domestica, and stable flies, Stomoxys calcitrans. Neither species supported the replication of RVFV, even after intrathoracic inoculation. However, S. calcitrans was able to mechanically transmit RVFV to susceptible hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) after probing on infected hamsters with high viral titers. Therefore, S. calcitrans, because of its close association with domestic animals that serve as amplifying hosts of RVFV, should be considered a possible mechanical vector of RVFV, and it may contribute to the rapid spread of a RVF outbreak. Other Stomoxys species present in Africa and elsewhere may also play similar roles.
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