#Vector #competence of biting #midges and #mosquitoes for #Shuni virus (PLoS Negl Trop Dis., abstract)

[Source: PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]


Vector competence of biting midges and mosquitoes for Shuni virus

Tim W. R. Möhlmann , Judith Oymans, Paul J. Wichgers Schreur, Constantianus J. M. Koenraadt, Jeroen Kortekaas, Chantal B. F. Vogels

Published: February 12, 2019 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006609




Shuni virus (SHUV) is an orthobunyavirus that belongs to the Simbu serogroup. SHUV was isolated from diverse species of domesticated animals and wildlife, and is associated with neurological disease, abortions, and congenital malformations. Recently, SHUV caused outbreaks among ruminants in Israel, representing the first incursions outside the African continent. The isolation of SHUV from a febrile child in Nigeria and seroprevalence among veterinarians in South Africa suggests that the virus may have zoonotic potential as well. The high pathogenicity, extremely broad tropism, potential transmission via both biting midges and mosquitoes, and zoonotic features of SHUV require further investigation. This is important to accurately determine the risk for animal and human health, and to facilitate preparations for potential epidemics. To gain first insight into the potential involvement of biting midges and mosquitoes in SHUV transmission we have investigated the ability of SHUV to infect two species of laboratory-colonised biting midges and two species of mosquitoes.

Methodology/Principal findings

Culicoides nubeculosus, C. sonorensis, Culex pipiens pipiens, and Aedes aegypti were orally exposed to SHUV by providing an infectious blood meal. Biting midges showed high infection rates of approximately 40%-60%, whereas infection rates of mosquitoes were only 0–2%. Moreover, successful dissemination in both species of biting midges and no evidence for transmission by orally exposed mosquitoes was found.


The results of this study suggest that different species of Culicoides midges are efficient in SHUV transmission, while the involvement of mosquitoes has not been supported.


Author summary

Arthropod-borne (arbo)viruses are notorious for causing unpredictable and large-scale epidemics and epizootics. Apart from viruses such as West Nile virus and Rift Valley fever virus that are well-known to cause a significant impact on human and animal health, many arboviruses remain neglected. Shuni virus (SHUV) is a neglected virus with zoonotic characteristics that was recently associated with severe disease in livestock and wildlife. Isolations from field-collected biting midges and mosquitoes suggests that SHUV may be transmitted by these insects. In this study, four main vectors that transmit other arboviruses were selected to test their susceptibility to SHUV. Laboratory-reared biting midge species (Culicoides nubeculosus and C. sonorensis) and mosquito species (Culex pipiens pipiens and Aedes aegypti) were exposed to SHUV via an infectious blood meal. SHUV was able to successfully disseminate in both biting midge species, whereas no evidence of transmission by both mosquito species was found. Our results suggest that SHUV can be transmitted efficiently by diverse Culicoides species, and thereby that these insects could play a major role in the disease transmission cycle.


Citation: Möhlmann TWR, Oymans J, Wichgers Schreur PJ, Koenraadt CJM, Kortekaas J, Vogels CBF (2019) Vector competence of biting midges and mosquitoes for Shuni virus. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 13(2): e0006609. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006609

Editor: David Harley, University of Queensland, AUSTRALIA

Received: May 31, 2018; Accepted: June 13, 2018; Published: February 12, 2019

Copyright: © 2019 Möhlmann et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper

Funding: TWRM, CJMK, and CBFV received funding from the Global One Health strategic programme of Wageningen University and Research, and JO, PJWS, and JK received funding from the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality; project WOT-01-001-033. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Keywords: Orthobunyavirus; Shuni virus; Arbovirus; Mosquitoes; Midges.


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Giuseppe Michieli

I am an Italian blogger, active since 2005 with main focus on emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza, SARS, antibiotics resistance, and many other global Health issues. Other fields of interest are: climate change, global warming, geological and biological sciences. My activity consists mainly in collection and analysis of news, public services updates, confronting sources and making decision about what are the 'signals' of an impending crisis (an outbreak, for example). When a signal is detected, I follow traces during the entire course of an event. I started in 2005 my blog ''A TIME'S MEMORY'', now with more than 40,000 posts and 3 millions of web interactions. Subsequently I added an Italian Language blog, then discontinued because of very low traffic and interest. I contributed for seven years to a public forum (FluTrackers.com) in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, I left the site to continue alone my data tracking job.