Changing patterns in the distribution of the Mayaro virus vector Haemagogus species in Trinidad, West Indies.


Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science & Technology, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago. Electronic address: [Email]


The Mayaro virus disease (MAYVD) is an emerging mosquito borne zoonosis that was first reported on the island of Trinidad in 1954. The viral agent for this disease is known to presently be endemic to Central and South America. The enzootic cycle of the Mayaro virus (MAYV) is not fully characterized, though primates are thought to be the main reservoir with Haemagogus species of mosquitoes as the primary vector. This virus has been responsible for several sporadic cases of infections and limited outbreaks, but it is postulated that the MAYVD will become a major epidemic in the future, following in the steps of the recent pandemics caused by Chikungunya and Zika viruses. Mitigating possible major outbreaks of MAYVD in the future would require effective strategies for vector control, for which knowledge on the ecology and distribution of the Haemagogus mosquitoes would be vitally important. In Trinidad, Haemagogus species have only been reported in the northwestern peninsula of the island based on studies up to 1995. However, no recent investigations have been completed to determine the status of this important vector on the island. The aim of this study was to investigate the current spatial distribution of Haemagogus species in the island of Trinidad, West Indies. Adult Haemagogus (Hag.) mosquitoes and larvae were surveyed during a twenty-month period using human bait trapping and ovitraps in major forested areas on the island. Mosquito species were identified using classical taxonomic keys. Haemagogus species were widespread and found in all forest types surveyed. Hag. janthinomys (85.7%) was the most widely distributed and dominant species on the island. Lower levels of Hag. leucocelaneus (7.3%), Hag. equinus (6.4%) and Hag. celeste (0.6%) were also collected. Overall, the proportion of mosquitoes collected in the wet season (June-December) was 3.5 times more than in the dry season (January-May). Mangroves, young secondary forests, semi-evergreen and evergreen forest types had relatively high mean abundance levels of Haemagogus species as compared to deciduous and montane forests. Proximity analysis suggests that population settlements within a 1 km buffer of the forest peripherals may be at risk for any emerging arboviral disease associated with these mosquito vectors. Haemagogus species showed a much wider distribution in Trinidad as compared to previous reports from up to 20 years ago and were prevalent in areas with no known presence of non-human primates. Since the MAYV has been previously implicated in causing infections in vertebrate hosts like rodents, birds and small mammals, the findings of this study suggest that there may be alternative hosts and reservoirs of this virus in the sylvatic cycle in Trinidad, other than primates. This has significant epidemiological implications for mosquito-borne viral infections in the region.


Distribution,Haemagogus,Mayaro virus,Trinidad,Yellow fever,

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