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    A crucial, but unresolved question concerning mosquito-borne virus transmission is how these viruses can remain endemic in regions where the transmission is halted for long periods of time, due to mosquito inactivity in, e.g., winter. In northern Europe, Sindbis virus (SINV) (genus alphavirus, Togaviridae) is transmitted among birds by Culex mosquitoes during the summer, with occasional symptomatic infections occurring in humans. In winter 2018-19, we sampled hibernating Culex spp females in a SINV endemic region in Sweden and assessed them individually for SINV infection status, blood-feeding status, and species. The results showed that 35 out of the 767 collected mosquitoes were infected by SINV, i.e., an infection rate of 4.6%. The vast majority of the collected mosquitoes had not previously blood-fed (98.4%) and were of the species Cx. pipiens (99.5%). This is the first study of SINV overwintering, and it concludes that SINV can be commonly found in the hibernating Cx. pipiens population in an endemic region in Sweden, and that these mosquitoes become infected through other means besides blood-feeding. Further studies on mosquito ecology and viral interactions are needed to elucidate the mechanisms of the persistence of these viruses over winter.

    Citation

    Alexander Bergman, Emma Dahl, Åke Lundkvist, Jenny C Hesson. Sindbis Virus Infection in Non-Blood-Fed Hibernating Culex pipiens Mosquitoes in Sweden. Viruses. 2020 Dec 14;12(12)

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    PMID: 33327649

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