Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 29324834
PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2018 Jan;12(1):e0005983
West Nile virus (WNV) and Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) are two emerging arboviruses transmitted by Culex pipiens species that includes two biotypes: pipiens and molestus. In Lebanon, human cases caused by WNV and RVFV have never been reported. However, the introduction of these viruses in the country is likely to occur through the migratory birds and animal trades. In this study, we evaluated the ability of Cx. pipiens, a predominant mosquito species in urban and rural regions in Lebanon, to transmit WNV and RVFV. Culex egg rafts were collected in the West Bekaa district, east of Lebanon and adult females of Cx. pipiens were experimentally infected with WNV and RVFV Clone 13 strain at titers of 1.6×108 and 1.33×107 plaque forming units (PFU)/mL, respectively. We estimated viral infection, dissemination and transmission at 3, 7, 14 and 19 days post infection (dpi). Results showed that infection was higher for WNV than for RVFV from 3 dpi to 19 dpi. Viral dissemination and transmission started from 3 dpi for WNV; and only from 19 dpi for RVFV. Moreover, Cx. pipiens were able to excrete in saliva a higher number of viral particles of WNV (1028 ± 405 PFU/saliva at 19 dpi) than RVFV (42 PFU/saliva at 19 dpi). Cx. pipiens from Lebanon are efficient experimental vectors of WNV and to a lower extent, RVFV. These findings should stimulate local authorities to establish an active entomological surveillance in addition to animal surveys for both viruses in the country.