Zika virus (ZIKV) emerged in the Pacific Ocean and subsequently caused a dramatic Pan-American epidemic after its first appearance in the Northeast region of Brazil in 2015. The virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. We evaluated the role of temperature and infectious doses of ZIKV in vector competence of Brazilian populations of Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus.
Two Ae. aegypti (Rio de Janeiro and Natal) and two Ae. albopictus (Rio de Janeiro and Manaus) populations were orally challenged with five viral doses (102 to 106 PFU / ml) of a ZIKV strain (Asian genotype) isolated in Northeastern Brazil, and incubated for 14 and 21 days in temperatures mimicking the spring-summer (28°C) and winter-autumn (22°C) mean values in Brazil. Detection of viral particles in the body, head and saliva samples was done by plaque assays in cell culture for determining the infection, dissemination and transmission rates, respectively. Compared with 28°C, at 22°C, transmission rates were significantly lower for both Ae. aegypti populations, and Ae. albopictus were not able to transmit the virus. Ae. albopictus showed low transmission rates even when challenged with the highest viral dose, while both Ae. aegypti populations presented higher of infection, dissemination and transmission rates than Ae. albopictus. Ae. aegypti showed higher transmission efficiency when taking virus doses of 105 and 106 PFU/mL following incubation at 28°C; both Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus were unable to transmit ZIKV with virus doses of 102 and 103 PFU/mL, regardless the incubation temperature.
The ingested viral dose and incubation temperature were significant predictors of the proportion of mosquito’s biting becoming infectious. Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus have the ability to transmit ZIKV when incubated at 28°C. However Brazilian populations of Ae. aegypti exhibit a much higher transmission potential for ZIKV than Ae. albopictus regardless the combination of infection dose and incubation temperature.