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Development of Dirofilaria immitis and Dirofilaria repens in Aedes japonicus and Aedes geniculatus

Silaghi, Cornelia, Beck, Relja, Capelli, Gioia, Montarsi, Fabrizio, Mathis, Alexander
Parasites & vectors 2017 v.10 no.1 pp. 94
Aedes aegypti, DNA, Dirofilaria immitis, Dirofilaria repens, Ochlerotatus japonicus, blood, cats, dirofilariasis, dogs, habitats, heartworms, humans, indigenous species, larvae, polymerase chain reaction, relative humidity, risk assessment, vector competence, zoonoses
BACKGROUND: The mosquito-borne filarial nematodes Dirofilaria immitis and Dirofilaria repens primarily affect dogs but also cats, causing heartworm disease or subcutaneous dirofilariosis, respectively, and both may also cause zoonotic diseases in humans. Several mosquito species have been reported as competent vectors for these nematodes, but no data are available for the invasive mosquito species Aedes japonicus (Theobald, 1901). The objective of this study was to describe the development of both D. immitis and D. repens under standardised experimental laboratory conditions in mosquitoes. METHODS: For this purpose, both a laboratory strain and field-collected individuals of the invasive mosquito species Ae. japonicus and, for comparative purposes, a laboratory strain of Aedes geniculatus, a rare indigenous species sharing habitats with Ae. japonicus, and of the tropical species Aedes aegypti were used. Anticoagulated microfilariaemic blood was fed at a density of 3000 mf/ml to mosquitoes with a hemotek system. Blood-fed mosquitoes were incubated at 27 °C and 85% relative humidity, and specimens were dissected under the microscope at pre-set time points to observe developmental stages of both Dirofilaria species. Additionally, real-time PCRs were carried out in some microscopically negative samples to determine the infection rates. RESULTS: In field-collected Ae. japonicus infectious L3 larvae of both D. immitis and D. repens developed, rendering this mosquito species an efficient vector for both filarial species. Additionally, Ae. geniculatus was shown to be an equally efficient vector for both filarial species. Aedes japonicus mosquitoes from a laboratory colony were refractory to D. immitis but susceptible to D. repens, whereas Ae. aegypti was refractory to both filarial species. CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, Aedes japonicus was for the first time shown to be an efficient vector for both D. immitis and D. repens, indicating that this invasive and locally highly abundant species may contribute to a transmission of filarial worms. The data emphasize the necessity to perform vector competence studies with local mosquito populations as basis for risk assessments. We further demonstrated that detection of filarial DNA in a mosquito species alone does not allow to draw reliable conclusions with regard to its vector competence.