Transfer of Rift Valley fever virus by Dutch mosquitoes

Rift Valley fever (RVF) affects mainly sheep, cattle and goats and can cause significant damage. The disease can also affect humans, sometimes with a fatal outcome. In Africa, the virus is spread by mosquitoes.

Female mosquitoes can transmit the virus to their eggs. In eggs from the Aedes vexans mosquito, the virus can sometimes survive for years, and is then distributed after hatching. Mosquito species that spread the RVF virus in Africa also live in the Netherlands.

While writing the scenario to control RVF outbreaks in the Netherlands, it was difficult to determine whether the virus would really spread here. It is unclear whether Dutch mosquitoes are capable of the RVF virus to multiply and transfer to susceptible hosts. Knowledge of this risk is essential.

This project intends to find out whether common Dutch mosquitoes are capable of taking up the RVF virus by drinking blood from a viremic Dutch sheep (a sheep with the virus in its bloodstream it) and consequently reproducing and spreading the virus? Should this be the case, the following research questions are relevant:

  • Are mosquitoes infected with RVF virus able to infect sheep Dutch sheep?
  • Are Dutch mosquitoes capable of transferring the RVF virus to their eggs?