Differential susceptibility of geographically distinct Ixodes ricinus populations to tick-borne encephalitis virus and louping ill virus

Julian W. Bakker*, Helen J. Esser, Hein Sprong, Gert Jan Godeke, Tabitha E. Hoornweg, Willem F. de Boer, Gorben P. Pijlman, Constantianus J.M. Koenraadt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is an emerging pathogen in the Netherlands. Multiple divergent viral strains are circulating and the focal distribution of TBEV remains poorly understood. This may, however, be explained by differences in the susceptibility of tick populations for specific viruses and viral strains, and by viral strains having higher infection success in their local tick population. We investigated this hypothesis by exposing Dutch Ixodes ricinus ticks to two different TBEV strains: TBEV-NL from the Netherlands and TBEV-Neudoerfl from Austria. In addition, we exposed ticks to louping Ill virus (LIV), which is endemic to large parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland, but has not been reported in the Netherlands. Ticks were collected from two locations in the Netherlands: one location without evidence of TBEV circulation and one location endemic for the TBEV-NL strain. Ticks were infected in a biosafety level 3 laboratory using an artificial membrane feeding system. Ticks collected from the region without evidence of TBEV circulation had lower infection rates for TBEV-NL as compared to TBEV-Neudoerfl. Vice versa, ticks collected from the TBEV-NL endemic region had higher infection rates for TBEV-NL compared to TBEV-Neudoerfl. In addition, LIV infection rates were much lower in Dutch ticks compared to TBEV, which may explain why LIV is not present in the Netherlands. Our findings show that ticks from two distinct geographical populations differ in their susceptibility to TBEV strains, which could be the result of differences in the genetic background of the tick populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2321992
JournalEmerging Microbes and Infections
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • artificial membrane feeding
  • Ticks
  • vector-competence

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