Competence of mosquitoes native to the United Kingdom to support replication and transmission of Rift Valley fever virus

Sarah Lumley*, Luis M. Hernández-Triana, Daniel L. Horton, Maria Del Mar Fernández De Marco, Jolyon Medlock, Roger Hewson, Anthony R. Fooks, Nicholas Johnson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Rift Valley fever phlebovirus (RVFV) is a mosquito-borne arbovirus causing severe disease in humans and livestock. It is endemic in Africa and spread to the Arabian Peninsula in 2000 raising concerns it could emerge in Europe. The ability of temperate mosquitoes from the United Kingdom (UK) to support replication and transmission of RVFV is unknown. Methods: In this study, two colonised lines of Culex pipiens, wild-caught Aedes detritus and Ae. rusticus from the UK were infected with pathogenic strains of RVFV to assess their vector competence. Mosquitoes were offered artificial blood-meals containing 106 or 107 plaque forming units (PFU)/ml RVFV, simulating natural peak viraemia in young ruminants, and maintained at 20 °C or 25 °C for up to 21 days. Bodies, legs and saliva were collected and tested for the presence of viral RNA and infectious virus to determine the infection, dissemination and transmission potential. Results: Across temperatures, doses and strains the average infection, dissemination and transmission rates were: 35, 13 and 5% (n = 91) for Cx. pipiens (Caldbeck); 23, 14 and 5% (n = 138) for Cx. pipiens (Brookwood); 36, 28 and 7% (n = 118) for Ae. detritus. However, despite 35% (n = 20) being susceptible to infection, Ae. rusticus did not transmit RVFV. Survival of Aedes species was negatively affected by maintenance at 25 °C compared to the more representative peak average British summer temperature of 20 °C. Increased mortality was also observed with some species infected with 107 PFU/ml compared to 106 PFU/ml. Conclusions: It can be concluded that temperate mosquito species present in the UK demonstrate a transmission potential for RVFV in the laboratory but, even at high temperatures, this occurred at low efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number308
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the University of Surrey, Public Health England (PHE) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) through grant SC1402 and supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Scottish and Welsh governments through grants SV3045 and SE4113. The views expressed are those of the authors not necessarily those of the funding bodies.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


  • Arbovirus
  • Mosquito
  • Rift Valley fever virus
  • UK
  • Vector competence


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