Zoonotic viruses circulate in the natural reservoir and sporadically spill over into human populations, resulting in endemics or pandemics. We previously found that the Chaoyang virus (CYV), an insect-specific flavivirus (ISF), is replication-defective in vertebrate cells. Here, we develope a proof-of-concept mosquito-delivered vaccine to control the Zika virus (ZIKV) within inaccessible wildlife hosts using CYV as the vector. The vaccine is constructed by replacing the pre-membrane and envelope (prME) proteins of CYV with those of ZIKV, assigned as CYV-ZIKV. CYV-ZIKV replicates efficiently in Aedes mosquitoes and disseminates to the saliva, with no venereal or transovarial transmission observed. To reduce the risk of CYV-ZIKV leaking into the environment, mosquitoes are X-ray irradiated to ensure 100% infertility, which does not affect the titer of CYV-ZIKV in the saliva. Immunization of mice via CYV-ZIKV-carrying mosquito bites elicites robust and persistent ZIKV-specific immune responses and confers complete protection against ZIKV challenge. Correspondingly, the immunized mice could no longer transmit the challenged ZIKV to naïve mosquitoes. Therefore, immunization with an ISF-vectored vaccine via mosquito bites is feasible to induce herd immunity in wildlife hosts of ZIKV. Our study provides a future avenue for developing a mosquito-delivered vaccine to eliminate zoonotic viruses in the sylvatic cycle.
© 2022. The Author(s).