Using a threshold model where a minimum level of host viremia is necessary to infect vectors affects our assessment of the relative importance of different host species in the transmission and spread of these pathogens. Other models may be more accurate descriptions of the relationship between host viremia and vector infection. Under the threshold model, the intensity and duration of the viremia above the threshold level is critical in determining the potential numbers of infected mosquitoes. A probabilistic model relating host viremia to the probability distribution of virions in the mosquito bloodmeal shows that the threshold model will underestimate the significance of hosts with low viremias. A probabilistic model that includes avian mortality shows that the maximum number of mosquitoes is infected by feeding on hosts whose viremia peaks just below the lethal level. The relationship between host viremia and vector infection is complex, and there is little experimental information to determine the most accurate model for different arthropod-vector-host systems. Until there is more information, the ability to distinguish the relative importance of different hosts in infecting vectors will remain problematic. Relying on assumptions with little support may result in erroneous conclusions about the importance of different hosts.
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