We describe and compare 2 qualitative serologic techniques for detecting West Nile virus (WNV)-specific antibodies in mosquito blood meals. The techniques are the biotin microsphere immunoassay (b-MIA) and the inhibition platform of the VectorTest™ WNV antigen assay (VecTest-inhibition). To demonstrate the ability of these tests to detect WNV-neutralizing antibodies, we experimentally exposed feeding mosquitoes to blood containing 5 concentrations of 6B6C-1, a flavivirus-neutralizing monoclonal antibody. Antibody concentrations were quantified using the 90% plaque-reduction neutralization test (PRNT90). After 24 h of blood-meal digestion at 22.5°C, the threshold PRNT90 titer of detection was ≤18 for b-MIA and ≤50 for VecTest-inhibition. Both tests reliably detected antibodies in 3 of 3 blood meals that had been digested for up to 30 h, or were about 25% digested. The b-MIA was also applied to mosquitoes that had engorged on avian blood in Arizona following a WNV epidemic in 2010. There was no significant difference in the WNV antibody prevalence determined by b-MIA (52% of 71 avian blood meals) compared to the WNV-neutralizing antibody prevalence in birds determined by direct sampling (49% of 234 birds). VecTest-inhibition requires fewer resources and may be used in the field without a laboratory, but consumes the entire blood meal and relies on subjective interpretation of results. The b-MIA requires a laboratory and sophisticated equipment and reagents. Results for b-MIA are analyzed objectively and can be applied to mosquito blood meals with greater confidence than the VecTest-inhibition method and thus can contribute substantially to research and surveillance programs that would benefit from the detection of specific WNV antibodies in mosquito blood meals.
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