Australian mosquitoes were evaluated for their ability to become infected with and transmit a Torres Strait strain of Japanese encephalitis virus. Mosquitoes, which were obtained from either laboratory colonies and collected using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention light traps baited with CO2 and octenol or reared from larvae, were infected by feeding on a blood/sucrose solution containing 104.5±0.1 porcine stable-equine kidney (PS-EK) tissue culture infectious dose50/mosquito of the TS3306 virus strain. After 14 d, infection and transmission rates of 100% and 81%, respectively, were obtained for a southeast Queensland strain of Culex annulirostris Skuse, and 93% and 61%, respectively, for a far north Queensland strain. After 13 or more days, infection and transmission rates of >90% and ≥50%, respectively, were obtained for southeast Queensland strains of Culex sitiens Wiedemann and Culex quinquefasciatus Say, and a far north Queensland strain of Culex gelidus Theobald. Although infection rates were >55%, only 17% of Ochlerotatus vigilax (Skuse) and no Cx. quinquefasciatus, collected from far north Queensland, transmitted virus. North Queensland strains of Aedes aegypti L., Ochlerotatus kochi (Dönitz), and Verrallina funerea (Theobald) were relatively refractory to infection. Vertical transmission was not detected among 673 F1 progeny of Oc. vigilax. Results of the current vector competence study, coupled with high field isolation rates, host feeding patterns and widespread distribution, confirm the status of Cx. annulirostris as the major vector of Japanese encephalitis virus in northern Australia. The relative roles of other species in potential Japanese encephalitis virus transmission cycles in northern Australia are discussed.
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Vol. 40 • No. 1