We evaluated mosquitoes collected in the Amazon Basin, near Iquitos, Peru, for their susceptibility to a subtype IIIC strain of the Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis complex. This virus had been previously isolated from a pool of mixed Culex vomerifer and Cx. gnomatos captured near Iquitos, Peru, in 1997. After feeding on hamsters with viremias of about 108 plaque-forming units of virus per ml, Cx. gnomatos was the most efficient vector. Other species, such as Ochlerotatus fulvus and Psorophora cingulata, although highly susceptible to infection, were not efficient laboratory vectors of this virus due to a significant salivary gland barrier. The Cx. (Culex) species, consisting mostly of Cx. (Cux.) coronator, were nearly refractory to subtype IIIC virus and exhibited both midgut infection as well as salivary gland barriers. Additional studies on biting behavior, mosquito population densities, and vertebrate reservoir hosts of subtype IIIC virus are needed to determine the role that these species play in the maintenance and spread of this virus in the Amazon Basin region.
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Vol. 22 • No. 1