Mosquito host feeding patterns and implications for Japanese encephalitis virus transmission in northern Australia and Papua New Guinea

A.F. Van Den Hurk, Cheryl Johansen, P. Zborowski, R. Paru, P.N. Foley, N.W. Beebe, J.S. Mackenzie, S.A. Ritchie

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Abstract

Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus spread to northern Australia during the 1990s, transmitted by Culex annulirostris Skuse and other mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae). To determine the relative importance of various hosts for potential vectors of JE virus, we investigated the host-feeding patterns of mosquitoes in northern Australia and Western Province of Papua New Guinea, with particular attention to pigs, Sus scrofa L. - the main amplifying host of JE virus in South-east Asia. Mosquitoes were collected by CDC light traps baited with dry ice and 1-octen-3-ol, run 16.00-08.00 hours, mostly set away from human habitations, if possible in places frequented by feral pigs. Bloodmeals of 2569 mosquitoes, representing 15 species, were identified by gel diffusion assay. All species had fed mostly on mammals: only 30%) were trapped where domestic pigs were kept close to human habitation. From seven of eight locations on the Australian mainland, the majority of Cx. annulirostris had obtained their bloodmeals from marsupials, probably the Agile wallaby Macropus agilis (Gould). Overall proportions of mosquito bloodmeals identified as marsupial were 60% from the Gulf Plains region of Australia, 78% from the Cape York Peninsula and 64% from the Daru area of Papua New Guinea. Thus, despite the abundance of feral pigs in northern Australia, our findings suggest that marsupials divert host-seeking Cx. annulirostris away from pigs. As marsupials are poor JE virus hosts, the prevalence of marsupials may impede the establishment of JE virus in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-411
JournalMedical and Veterinary Entomology
Volume17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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