Verrallina funerea (Theobald) (Diptera: Culicidae) is a brackish water mosquito species found most commonly in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the northeastern coastal regions of Australia. Aspects of the vector competence of this species for Barmah Forest virus (family Togaviridae, genus Alphavirus, BFV) and Ross River virus (family Togaviridae, genus Alphavirus, RRV), two medically important arboviruses in Australia, were investigated. Laboratory-reared Ve. funerea were moderately susceptible to experimental infection with BFV (median cell culture infectious dose of 103.6 per mosquito) and were capable of transmission to suckling mice (52% after a 9–12-d extrinsic incubation period). Maximum salivary gland infections for BFV (65%) and RRV (50%) were observed 8 and 10 d postinfection, respectively. To examine any regional differences in vector competence, field populations (separated by up to 200 km) of Ve. funerea and Aedes vigilax (Skuse) from southeastern Queensland and northern New South Wales were fed BFV and RRV, and subsequent infection rates were compared. For both viruses, no statistically significant variations in body, disseminated, or salivary gland infection rates were found in either Ve. funerea or Ae. vigilax. The results from this study indicate that Ve. funerea may have an important role as an amplification vector during outbreaks of both viruses and that local government authorities should rapidly treat brackish water habitats to control this species during periods of increased disease activity.
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Vol. 43 • No. 6