West Nile virus (WNV) is on the rise in Europe, with increasing numbers of human cases of neurological disease and death since 2010. However, it is currently unknown whether or not WNV will continue to spread to north-western Europe (NWE), in a fashion similar to the WNV epidemic sweep in the United States (1999–2004). The presence of competent mosquitoes is a strict requirement for WNV transmission, but no laboratory studies have been conducted with the new European lineage 2 WNV outbreak strain. Our study is the first to investigate transmissibility in NWE Culex pipiens for lineage 2 WNV in a systematic, direct comparison with North American Culex pipiens and with the lineage 1 WNV strain. We demonstrate that European mosquitoes are highly competent for both WNV lineages, which underscores the epidemic potential ofWNV in Europe. However, the transmission rate for lineage 2 WNV was significantly lower in North American mosquitoes, which indicates different risk levels between both continents for lineage 2 but not lineage 1 WNV. Based on our result, we propose that WNV surveillance in mosquitoes and birds must be intensified in Europe to allow early detection, timely intervention strategies and prevent outbreaks of WNV neurological disease.
- differential virulence
- vector competence
- lineage 1
Fros, J. J., Geertsema, C., Vogels, C. B. F., Roosjen, P. P. J., Failloux, A. B., Vlak, J. M., Koenraadt, C. J. M., Takken, W., & Pijlman, G. P. (2015). West Nile Virus: High Transmission Rate in North-Western European Mosquitoes Indicates Its Epidemic Potential and Warrants Increased Surveillance. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 9(7), [e0003956]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0003956