West Nile virus vector competency of Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes in the Galapagos Islands

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2011 Sep;85(3):426-33. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.2011.10-0739.


The mosquito-transmitted pathogen West Nile virus (WNV) is not yet present in the Galápagos Archipelago of Ecuador. However, concern exists for fragile endemic island fauna after population decreases in several North American bird species and pathology in certain reptiles. We examined WNV vector competency of a Galápagos strain of mosquito (Culex quinquefasciatus Say). Field specimens were tested for their capacity to transmit the WN02-1956 strain of WNV after incubation at 27°C or 30°C. Rates of infection, dissemination, and transmission all increased with days post-exposure to WNV, and the highest rates were observed at 28 days. Infection rates peaked at 59% and transmission rates peaked at 44% (of mosquitoes tested). Vector efficiency increased after day 14. Rates of infection but not of transmission were significantly influence by temperature. No vertical transmission was detectable. We demonstrate that Galápagos Cx. quinquefasciatus are competent WNV vectors, and therefore should be considered an animal and public health risk for the islands and controlled wherever possible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Culex / virology*
  • Ecuador / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / virology
  • Insect Vectors / virology*
  • Male
  • Saliva / virology
  • West Nile Fever / epidemiology
  • West Nile Fever / transmission
  • West Nile virus / physiology*