Limited risk of Zika virus transmission by five Aedes albopictus populations from Spain.


Laboratório de Mosquitos Transmissores de Hematozoários, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (IOC/ FIOCRUZ), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. [Email]


BACKGROUND : Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito, is an exotic invasive species in Europe. It has substantial public health relevance due to its potential role in transmitting several human pathogens. Out of the European countries, Spain has one of the highest risk levels of autochthonous arbovirus transmission due to both the high density of Ae. albopictus and the extensive tourist influx from vector-endemic areas. This study aims to investigate the susceptibility of five Ae. albopictus populations from mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands to a Brazilian Zika virus (ZIKV) strain.
METHODS : The F1 generation of each Ae. albopictus population was orally challenged with a ZIKV-infected blood meal (1.8 × 106 PFU/ml). At 7 and 14 days post-infection (dpi), mosquito bodies (thorax and abdomen) and heads were individually analysed through RT-qPCR to determine the infection rate (IR) and dissemination rate (DR), respectively. The saliva of infected mosquitoes was inoculated in Vero cells and the transmission rate was assessed by plaque assay or RT-qPCR on ~33 individuals per population.
RESULTS : The IR and DR ranged between 12-88%, and 0-60%, respectively, suggesting that ZIKV is capable of crossing the midgut barrier. Remarkably, no infectious viral particle was found in saliva samples, indicating a low ability of ZIKV to overcome the salivary gland barrier. A subsequent assay revealed that a second non-infective blood meal 48 h after ZIKV exposure did not influence Ae. albopictus vector competence.
CONCLUSIONS : The oral experimental ZIKV infections performed here indicate that Ae. albopictus from Spain become infected and disseminate the virus through the body but has a limited ability to transmit the Brazilian ZIKV strain through biting. Therefore, the results suggest a limited risk of autochthonous ZIKV transmission in Spain by Ae. albopictus.


Aedes albopictus,Plaque assay,RT-qPCR,Spanish populations,Vector competence,Viral copies,Zika virus,

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