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Mosquito study shows new, faster way West Nile can spread

r in position so that its uninfected "recipient" mosquitoes could feed on the same mouse, allowing the simultaneous feeding by infected and uninfected mosquitoes to continue for an hour. In repeated experiments, tests revealed that between 2 and 6 percent of the recipient mosquitoes acquired the virus. In one trial, a single bite from a donor mosquito was sufficient to infect two out of 87 recipient mosquitoes.

The discovery calls into question the current conception of mosquito transmission of West Nile virus and possibly other viruses such as the one that causes dengue fever. According to that theory, many vertebrates were considered to be "dead-end hosts" that did not pass along the virus. Only birds, which develop much higher levels of the West Nile virus in their blood, were thought capable of passing it on to uninfected mosquitoes.

"None of the models that have attempted to predict the spread of West Nile virus take into account the possibility that mammals such as horses may be involved in the proliferation of this virus. Direct transfer of virus from the infected mosquitoes that initially feed on them to others that feed on them afterwards, could significantly accelerate the spread of the disease," Higgs said. "Instead of only birds infecting mosquitoes, all sorts of animals may be involved, and transmission could be happening much faster because you don't have to wait for a high viremia."


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Source:University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston


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