We evaluated the potential for several North American mosquito species to transmit the newly introduced West Nile (WN) virus. Mosquitoes collected in the New York City metropolitan area during the recent WN virus outbreak, at the Assateague Island Wildlife Refuge, VA, or from established colonies were allowed to feed on chickens infected with WN virus isolated from a crow that died during the 1999 outbreak. These mosquitoes were tested ≈2 wk later to determine infection, dissemination, and transmission rates. Aedes albopictus (Skuse), Aedes atropalpus (Coquillett), and Aedes japonicus (Theobald) were highly susceptible to infection, and nearly all individuals with a disseminated infection transmitted virus by bite. Culex pipiens L. and Aedes sollicitans (Walker) were moderately susceptible. In contrast, Aedes vexans (Meigen), Aedes aegypti (L.), and Aedes taeniorhynchus (Wiedemann) were relatively refractory to infection, but individual mosquitoes inoculated with WN virus did transmit virus by bite. Infected female Cx. pipiens transmitted WN virus to one of 1,618 F1 progeny, indicating the potential for vertical transmission of this virus. In addition to laboratory vector competence, host-feeding preferences, relative abundance, and season of activity also determine the role that these species could play in transmitting WN virus.
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Vol. 38 • No. 2