Background: Dengue virus (DENV) is a mosquito-borne arbovirus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, but is not endemic in all areas where this vector is found. For example, the relatively sparse distribution of cases in West Africa is generally attributed to the refractory nature of West African Aedes aegypti (Ae. aegypti) to DENV infection, and particularly the forest-dwelling Ae. aegypti formosus. However, recent studies have shown these mosquitoes to be competent vectors within some West African countries that have suffered outbreaks in the past, such as Senegal. There is however little information on the vector competence of the Ae. aegypti in West African countries such as Ghana with no reported outbreaks.
Methods: This study examined the vector competence of 4 Ae. aegypti colonies from urban, semi-urban, and two rural locations in Ghana in transmitting DENV serotypes 1 and 2, using a single colony from Vietnam as control. Midgut infection and virus dissemination were determined by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), while the presence and concentration of DENV in the saliva of infectious mosquitoes was determined by the focus forming assay.
Results: There were significant differences in the colonies' susceptibility to virus infection, dissemination, and transmission. All examined Ghanaian mosquitoes were refractory to infection by DENV serotype 2, while some colonies exhibited potential to transmit DENV serotype 1. None of the tested colonies were as competent as the control group colony.
Conclusions: These findings give insight into the possible risk of outbreaks, particularly in the urban areas in the south of Ghana, and highlight the need for continuous surveillance to determine the transmission status and outbreak risk. This study also highlights the need to prevent importation of different DENV strains and potential invasion of new highly vector-competent Ae. aegypti strains, particularly around the ports of entry.
Keywords: Aedes aegypti; Dengue virus; Ghana; Susceptibility; Vector competence; West Africa.