The effect of long-term West Nile virus (WNV) infection on Culex salivary gland morphology and viability was evaluated by transmission electron microscopy during a four week period post-blood feeding. These studies showed that apoptosis and other cytopathologic changes occurred more frequently in WNV-infected mosquitoes compared with uninfected controls. The effect of long-term infection on WNV transmission was evaluated by titering virus in saliva over the same time period. Although the mean titer of WNV in mosquito saliva did not change significantly over time, the percentage of saliva samples containing WNV decreased. Because of the importance of saliva in blood meal acquisition and virus delivery, salivary gland pathology has the potential to affect mosquito feeding behavior and virus transmission. Results from this study add to a growing body of evidence that arbovirus infections in mosquito vectors can be cytopathic, and offer a potential mechanism for virus-induced cell death in mosquitoes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases