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Mosquito (Diptera: Culicidae) Dispersal: Implications for the Epidemiology of Japanese and Murray Valley Encephalitis Viruses in Australia

B. H. Kay, R. A. Farrow
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/0022-2585-37.6.797 797-801 First published online: 1 November 2000

Abstract

One hypothesis to explain the southern extension of Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus from Papua New Guinea into the Torres Strait islands in 1995 and to mainland Australia in 1998 is the dispersal of infected mosquitoes, particularly Culex annulirostris Skuse from which JE virus has been isolated repeatedly. To investigate whether this species disperses in this manner, mosquitoes were identified from 368 aerial kite trap collections operated at 50–310 m (altitude) at inland New South Wales between November 1979 to December 1984. Forty samples (9 during daylight and 31 at night) contained mosquitoes, of which 221 could be identified as Culex australicus Dobrotworsky & Drummond (58.8%), Culex annulirostris (21.3%), Anopheles annulipes Walker s.l. (10.4%), Aedes theobaldi (Taylor) (7.2%), Aedes rubrithorax (Macquart) (1.4%), and Aedes sagax (Skuse) (<0.9%). During the night, mosquitoes were found in 22.6% of the collections at a mean density (±SD) of 91.3 ± 151.7/106 m3 of air sampled. During the day, only 3.8% were positive at a mean density 125.3 ± 152.1. When examined in relation to possible flying time and wind speed, mean ± SD dispersal distances by day and night were 23.9 ± 15.3 km and 152.4 ± 116.3 km, respectively. These data provide circumstantial evidence that aerial carriage southward ≈200 km from Papua New Guinea to Cape York peninsula is feasible, but that southern dispersal of Murray Valley encephalitis virus infected mosquitoes from tropical to temperate Australia is unlikely.

  • Culex annulirostris
  • mosquito dispersal
  • epidemiology
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Murray Valley encephalitis
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