New paper on Usutu virus now out in mShere!
Check out our new paper published in mSphere. The study was led by graduate student Sarah Kuchinsky from Dr. Nisha Duggal's lab.
Abstract: Usutu virus (USUV, Flaviviridae) is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that has been implicated in neuroinvasive disease in humans and epizootic deaths in wild birds. USUV is maintained in an enzootic cycle between ornithophilic mosquitoes, primarily Culex spp., and wild birds, predominantly passerine species. However, limited experimental data exist on the species competent for USUV transmission. Here, we demonstrate that house sparrows are susceptible to multiple USUV strains. Our study also revealed that Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes are susceptible to USUV, with a significantly higher infection rate for the Netherlands 2016 USUV strain compared to the Uganda 2012 USUV strain at 50% and 19%, respectively. To assess transmission between avian host and mosquito vector, we allowed mosquitoes to feed on either juvenile chickens or house sparrows inoculated with USUV. Both bird models transmitted USUV to C. quinquefasciatus mosquitoes. Linear regression analyses indicated that C. quinquefasciatus infection rates were positively correlated with avian viremia levels, with 3 to 4 log10 PFU/mL representing the minimum avian viremia threshold for transmission to mosquitoes. Based on the viremia required for transmission, house sparrows were estimated to more readily transmit the Netherlands 2016 strain compared to the Uganda 2012 strain. These studies provide insights on a competent reservoir host of USUV.