Publications

Reproducing the Rift Valley fever virus mosquito-lamb-mosquito transmission cycle

Wichgers Schreur, Paul J.; Vloet, Rianka P.M.; Kant, Jet; Keulen, Lucien van; Gonzales, Jose L.; Visser, Tessa M.; Koenraadt, Constantianus J.M.; Vogels, Chantal B.F.; Kortekaas, Jeroen

Summary

Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a mosquito-borne bunyavirus that is pathogenic to ruminants and humans. The virus is endemic to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula where outbreaks are characterized by abortion storms and mortality of newborns, particularly in sheep herds. Vector competence experiments in laboratory settings have suggested that over 50 mosquito species are capable of transmitting RVFV. Transmission of mosquito-borne viruses in the field is however influenced by numerous factors, including population densities, blood feeding behavior, extrinsic incubation period, longevity of vectors, and viremia levels in vertebrate hosts. Animal models to study these important aspects of RVFV transmission are currently lacking. In the present work, RVFV was transmitted to European (Texel-swifter cross-breed) lambs by laboratory-reared Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that were infected either by membrane feeding on a virus-spiked blood meal or by feeding on lambs that developed viremia after intravenous inoculation of RVFV. Feeding of mosquitoes on viremic lambs resulted in strikingly higher infection rates as compared to membrane feeding. Subsequent transmission of RVFV from lamb to lamb by infected mosquitoes was highly efficient in both models. The animal models described here can be used to study mosquito-mediated transmission of RVFV among the major natural target species and to evaluate the efficacy of vaccines against mosquito-mediated RVFV infection.