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Open Access Research

Vector competence of Culicoides sonorensis (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) to epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus serotype 7

Mark G Ruder125*, Elizabeth W Howerth2, David E Stallknecht1, Andrew B Allison16, Deborah L Carter2, Barbara S Drolet3, Eyal Klement4 and Daniel G Mead1

Author Affiliations

1 Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA

2 Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA

3 United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Arthropod-Borne Animal Diseases Research Unit, Manhattan, KS 66502, USA

4 Koret School of Veterinary Medicine, The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, P.O. Box 12, Rehovot 76100, Israel

5 Present address: United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Arthropod-Borne Animal Diseases Research Unit, Manhattan, KS 66502, USA

6 Present address: Baker Institute for Animal Health, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

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Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:236  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-236

Published: 17 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Culicoides sonorensis (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) is a vector of epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) serotypes 1 and 2 in North America, where these viruses are well-known pathogens of white-tailed deer (WTD) and other wild ruminants. Although historically rare, reports of clinical EHDV infection in cattle have increased in some parts of the world over the past decade. In 2006, an EHDV-7 epizootic in cattle resulted in economic loss for the Israeli dairy industry. White-tailed deer are susceptible to EHDV-7 infection and disease; however, this serotype is exotic to the US and the susceptibility of C. sonorensis to this cattle-virulent EHDV is not known. The objective of the study was to determine if C. sonorensis is susceptible to EHDV-7 infection and is a competent vector.

Methods

To evaluate the susceptibility of C. sonorensis, midges were fed on EHDV-7 infected WTD, held at 22 ± 1°C, and processed individually for virus isolation and titration on 4–16 days post feeding (dpf). Midges with a virus titer of ≥102.7 median tissue culture infective doses (TCID50)/midge were considered potentially competent. To determine if infected C. sonorensis were capable of transmitting EHDV-7 to a host, a susceptible WTD was then fed on by a group of 14–16 dpf midges.

Results

From 4–16 dpf, 45% (156/350) of midges that fed on WTD with high titer viremia (>107 TCID50/ml) were virus isolation-positive, and starting from 10–16 dpf, 32% (35/109) of these virus isolation-positive midges were potentially competent (≥102.7 TCID50/midge). Midges that fed on infected deer transmitted the virus to a susceptible WTD at 14–16 dpf. The WTD developed viremia and severe clinical disease.

Conclusion

This study demonstrates that C. sonorensis is susceptible to EHDV-7 infection and can transmit the virus to susceptible WTD, thus, C. sonorensis should be considered a potential vector of EHDV-7. Together with previous work, this study demonstrates that North America has a susceptible ruminant and vector host for this exotic, cattle-virulent strain of EHDV-7.

Keywords:
Culicoides sonorensis; EHDV-7; Epizootic hemorrhagic disease; Hemorrhagic disease; Transmission; Vector competence; White-tailed deer