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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2004 Spring;4(1):71-82.

Host feeding patterns of established and potential mosquito vectors of West Nile virus in the eastern United States.

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  • 1Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.


An important variable in determining the vectorial capacity of mosquito species for arthropod-borne infections is the degree of contact of the vector and the vertebrate reservoir. This parameter can be estimated by examining the host-feeding habits of vectors. Serological and polymerase chain reaction based methods have been used to study the host-feedings patterns of 21 mosquito species from New York, New Jersey, and Tennessee, 19 of which previously have been found infected with West Nile virus. Mammalophilic mosquito species in New Jersey and New York fed primarily upon white-tailed deer, while those from Memphis, Tennessee, fed mainly upon domestic dogs. A total of 24 different avian host species were detected among the avian-derived blood meals. American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Tufted Titmouse, and Brown-headed Cowbird were common avian hosts, while blood meals derived from the American Crow were relatively rare. Although the majority of common host species were potentially among the most abundant birds at each location, the proportion of blood meals from the most commonly fed upon avian species was greater than was predicted based upon the likely abundance of these species alone. These findings suggest that vector species for West Nile virus may preferentially feed upon certain avian hosts.

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