La Crosse virus and Dirofilaria immitis: Abundance of Potential Vectors in Southwestern Virginia and the Effects of Dual Infection on Aedes albopictus and Ochlerotatus triseriatus
Microfilarial enhancement of viral transmission is well documented, however only one previously studied model used components that occur together in nature and therefore has realistic implications. La Crosse (LAC) virus encephalitis is the most common mosquito-borne illness affecting children in the United States. LAC virus is prevalent in the Great Lake and Mid-Atlantic states and coincidently this area overlaps the region of highest infection for Dirofilaria immitis, the nematode that cause canine heartworm disease. Ae. albopictus and Oc. triseriatus are important vectors of La Crosse virus and among the numerous species able to transmit D. immitis. In this study, Aedes albopictus and Ochlerotatus triseriatus were infected with La Crosse virus and Dirofilaria immitis to determine the effects of dual infection on the dissemination and transmission of the virus.
The effects of dual infection varied between the species tested. Ae. albopictus had significantly higher tolerance to D. immitis infection than Oc. triseriatus. Dissemination for dually infected Ae. albopictus were higher than the control group for all days tested, except one. Transmission rates for D. immitis infected Ae. albopictus were significantly higher than the control group on day 14 post infection. No microfilarial enhancement of viral dissemination or transmission was observed for Oc. triseriatus. The infection, dissemination, and tranmission rates were low for both species compared to rates of previous studies. Low rates could be a result of low susceptibility for the strains tested.
In a second study, mosquitoes were collected from two counties in Southwestern Virginia to determine the abundance of potential La Crosse virus and D. immitis vector species. The abundance and distribution of mosquito species were examined in 2003 and 2004 using gravid traps. An unexpected finding was the significant increase in the abundance of Ochlerotatus japonicus. In 2003, collections were made over 192 trap nights from June to August yielding 5,879 mosquitoes of which only 24 were Oc. japonicus. In 2004, 12,151 mosquitoes were trapped from June to September over 160 trap nights. Oc. japonicus was the second most abundant mosquito species and the dominant Ochlerotatus species collected in gravid traps. Oc. japonicus was collected in low numbers in June, but the abundance increased significantly in July and remained consistent throughout the rest of the season. Of the other major mosquito species collected in this study, only Aedes albopictus exhibited a similar seasonal pattern as Oc. japonicus. Other biological similarities of Oc. japonicus and Ae. albopictus are discussed.