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Evaluation of the vector competence for Batai virus of native Culex and exotic Aedes species in Central Europe.

BACKGROUND: Batai virus (BATV) is a zoonotic arbovirus of veterinary importance. A high seroprevalence in cows, sheep and goats and infection in different mosquito species has been observed in Central Europe. Therefore, we studied indigenous as well as exotic species of the genera Culex and Aedes for BATV vector competence at different fluctuating temperature profiles.

METHODS: Field caught Culex pipiens biotype pipiens, Culex torrentium, Aedes albopictus and Aedes japonicus japonicus from Germany and Aedes aegypti laboratory colony were infected with BATV strain 53.3 using artificial blood meals. Engorged mosquitoes were kept under four (Culex species) or three (Aedes species) fluctuating temperature profiles (18 ± 5 °C, 21 ± 5 °C, 24 ± 5 °C, 27 ± 5 °C) at a humidity of 70% and a dark/light rhythm of 12:12 for 14 days. Transmission was measured by testing the saliva obtained by forced salivation assay for viable BATV particles. Infection rates were analysed by testing whole mosquitoes for BATV RNA by quantitative reverse transcription PCR.

RESULTS: No transmission was detected for Ae. aegypti, Ae. albopictus or Ae. japonicus japonicus. Infection was observed for Cx. p. pipiens, but only in the three conditions with the highest temperatures (21 ± 5 °C, 24 ± 5 °C, 27 ± 5 °C). In Cx. torrentium infection was measured at all tested temperatures with higher infection rates compared with Cx. p. pipiens. Transmission was only detected for Cx. torrentium exclusively at the highest temperature of 27 ± 5 °C.

CONCLUSIONS: Within the tested mosquito species, only Cx. torrentium seems to be able to transmit BATV if the climatic conditions are feasible.

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