Diseases caused by flaviviruses are a major public health burden across the world. In the past decades, South America has suffered dengue epidemics, the re-emergence of yellow fever and St. Louis encephalitis viruses, and the introduction of West Nile and Zika viruses. Many insect-specific flaviviruses (ISFs) that cannot replicate in vertebrate cells have recently been described. In this study, we analyzed field-collected mosquito samples from six different ecoregions of Argentina to detect flaviviruses. We did not find any RNA belonging to pathogenic flaviviruses or ISFs in adults or immature stages. However, flaviviral-like DNA similar to flavivirus NS5 region was detected in 83-100% of Aedes aegypti (L.). Despite being previously described as an ancient element in the Ae. aegypti genome, the flaviviral-like DNA sequence was not detected in all Ae. aegypti samples and sequences obtained did not form a monophyletic group, possibly reflecting the genetic diversity of mosquito populations in Argentina.
Keywords: Aedes aegypti; flaviviral-like DNA; flavivirus; mosquitoe.
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