Experimental studies evaluated the vector competence of Ochlerotatus taeniorhynchus (Wiedemann), Culex cancer Theobald, Culex pseudes (Dyar and Knab), Culex taeniopus Dyar and Knab, and a Culex (Culex) species, probably Culex quinquefasciatus Say, and Culex nigripalpus Theobald from Chiapas, Mexico, and Tocoa, Honduras, for epizootic (IC) and enzootic (IE) strains of Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis (VEE) virus. Culex pseudes was highly susceptible to infection with both the IC and IE strains of VEE (infection rates >78%). Patterns of susceptibility to VEE were similar for Oc. taeniorhynchus collected in Mexico and Honduras. Although Oc. taeniorhynchus was highly susceptible to the epizootic IC strains (infection rates ≥95%, n = 190), this species was less susceptible to the enzootic IE strain (infection rates ≤35%, n = 233). The Culex (Culex) species were refractory to both subtypes of VEE, and none of 166 contained evidence of a disseminated infection. Virus-exposed Cx. pseudes that refed on susceptible hamsters readily transmitted virus, confirming that this species was an efficient vector of VEE. Although Oc. taeniorhynchus that fed on hamsters infected with the epizootic IC strain transmitted VEE efficiently, only one of six of those with a disseminated infection with the enzootic IE virus that fed on hamsters transmitted virus by bite. These data indicate that Cx. pseudes is an efficient laboratory vector of both epizootic and enzootic strains of VEE and that Oc. taeniorhynchus could be an important vector of epizootic subtypes of VEE.
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