Three-quarters of the estimated 390 million dengue virus (DENV) infections each year are clinically inapparent. People with inapparent dengue virus infections are generally considered dead-end hosts for transmission because they do not reach sufficiently high viremia levels to infect mosquitoes. Here, we show that, despite their lower average level of viremia, asymptomatic people can be infectious to mosquitoes. Moreover, at a given level of viremia, DENV-infected people with no detectable symptoms or before the onset of symptoms are significantly more infectious to mosquitoes than people with symptomatic infections. Because DENV viremic people without clinical symptoms may be exposed to more mosquitoes through their undisrupted daily routines than sick people and represent the bulk of DENV infections, our data indicate that they have the potential to contribute significantly more to virus transmission to mosquitoes than previously recognized.
Keywords: Aedes aegypti; Cambodia; dengue; human-to-mosquito transmission; mosquito experimental infection.