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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2004 Winter;4(4):360-78.

Epidemiology of West Nile virus in Connecticut: a five-year analysis of mosquito data 1999-2003.

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  • 1Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut 06504, USA.


Two hundred and ten isolations of West Nile virus (WNV) were obtained from 17 mosquito species in six genera in statewide surveillance conducted in Connecticut from June through October, 1999-2003. Culex pipiens (86), Culex salinarius (32), Culex restuans (26), Culiseta melanura (32), and Aedes vexans (12) were implicated as the most likely vectors of WNV in the region based on virus isolation data. Culex pipiens was abundant from July through September and is likely involved in early season enzootic transmission and late season epizootic amplification of the virus in wild bird populations. Epidemic transmission of WNV to humans in urban locales is probable. The abundance of Cx. restuans in June and July and isolations of WNV in early July suggest that this species may play an important role as an enzootic vector involved in early amplification of WNV virus among wild birds. Its involvement as a bridge vector to humans is unlikely. Culex salinarius was the most frequently captured Culex species and was abundant in August and September when virus activity was at its height. Frequent isolations of WNV from this species in September when the majority of human cases were reported in union with its abundance at this time of the year, demonstrated vector competence, and broad feeding habits, make Cx. salinarius a likely bridge vector to humans, horses and other mammals. Multiple isolations WNV from Cs. melanura collected in more rural locales in late August and September, provide supportive evidence to suggest that this predominant avian feeder may play a significant role in epizootic amplification of the virus among wild bird populations in these environs. Aedes vexans was the only species of Aedes or Ochlerotatus from which multiple isolations of WNV were made in more than one year and was among the most frequently trapped and abundant species throughout the season. Since Ae. vexans predominately feeds on mammals it is unlikely to play a significant role in epizootic amplification of WNV, however, because of its abundance and aggressive mammalian and human biting behavior it must receive strong consideration as a bridge vector to humans and horses. The occasional virus isolations obtained from Aedes cinereus (4), Uranotaenia sapphirina (3), Ochlerotatus canadensis (2), Ochlerotatus trivittatus (2), Ochlerotatus sollicitans (2), Ochlerotatus sticticus (2), Psorophora ferox (2), Anopheles punctipennis, Anopheles walkeri, Ochlerotatus cantator, Ochlerotatus taeniorhynchus, and Ochlerotatus triseriatus in conjunction with their inefficient vector competency and host feeding preferences indicate that these species likely play a very minor role in either the enzootic maintenance or epizootic transmission of WNV in this region. The principal foci of WNV activity in Connecticut were identified as densely populated (>3,000 people/mi2) residential communities in coastal Fairfield and New Haven Counties, and in the case of 2002, similar locales in proximity of the city of Hartford in central Hartford County. In almost all instances we observed a correlation both temporally and spatially between the isolation of WNV from field-collected mosquitoes and subsequent human cases in these locales. In most years the incidence of human cases closely paralleled the number of virus isolations made from mosquitoes with both peaks falling in early September. We conclude that the isolation of WNV from field-collected mosquitoes is a sensitive indicator of virus activity that is associated with the risk of human infection that habitually extends from early August through the end of October in Connecticut.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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