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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 147  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 88-96

Experimental Zika virus infection in Aedes aegypti: Susceptibility, transmission & co-infection with dengue & chikungunya viruses

1 ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune, India
2 Medical Entomology Group; ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune, India
3 Maximum Containment Laboratory; ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr Devendra T Mourya
ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Sus Road, Pashan, Pune 411 021, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_1142_17

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Background & objectives: There are reports about the susceptibility of Aedes mosquitoes to ZIKV from various countries, however, no such information is available from Indian sub-continent, although, high level of group cross-reactivity of ZIKV with other flaviviruses has been reported. During outbreak situations, many cases of Dengue (DEN) and Chikungunya (CHIK) are reported. In such scenario, vector mosquitoes are likely to get co-infection/secondary-infection with one or other virus. The present study was carried out to determine the susceptibility of Indian strain of Aedes aegypti to Zika virus (ZIKV) strain (MR-766) and the effect of co-infection/super-infection with either dengue virus (serotype-2) (DENV) or chikungunya virus (CHIKV) on ZIKV replication. Methods: Ae. aegypti mosquitoes used in this study were reared for many generations since 1980 at laboratory colony maintained at the ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune, India. Transmissibility of ZIKV from infected mosquitoes to suckling mice was also studied. Mosquitoes were experimentally infected with ZIKV and super-infected with either DENV or CHIKV via membrane-feeding route and incubated for 14 days at 28±2°C and humidity of 85±5 per cent. Replication of these viruses in mosquitoes was confirmed using real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and immunofluorescence assay. Twenty infected mosquitoes were allowed to feed upon four suckling CD1 mice for about 30 min. Transmission of the ZIKV by infected mosquitoes to suckling mice was confirmed by the appearance of clinical signs and the presence of viral RNA in different organs. Results: Concomitant infection of mosquitoes with all the three viruses showed simultaneous propagation of all three viruses, confirmed by real time RT-PCR and IFA. Infection of mosquitoes with CHIKV followed by ZIKV showed positivity in individual head squashes (7%) for both viruses using IFA; only 8.3 per cent showed dual positivity with primary infection of ZIKV followed by DENV; 8.3 per cent dual infection positivity was observed when infected with DENV followed by ZIKV; 5 per cent showed dual infection was observed when infected with ZIKV followed by CHIKV. Ae. aegypti was found to be susceptible to ZIKV strain as ZIKV could be detected from the second post-infection day (PID) in infected mosquitoes. Transmission of ZIKV to mice by the bite of infected Ae. aegypti establishes this species as a potential vector. Interpretation & conclusions: From super-infection experiments, it was concluded that ZIKV might have a relative advantage in replication dynamics over DENV. Vertical transmission was not observed for ZIKV in experimentally infected mosquitoes (n=920 larvae). Further studies are required to understand the possibility of silently circulating ZIKV in India, which remain non-detected because of lack of surveillance.

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