November 4, 2008

Small Mosquitoes Are Likely Virus Carriers

U.S. entomologists say they've determined smaller mosquitoes are more likely to be infected with viruses causing human diseases than are larger mosquitoes.

The researchers said they fed mosquitoes blood contaminated with the dengue virus and later tested them for infection at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, taking into account the size of each mosquito by measuring the length of their wings.

They discovered smaller-sized mosquitoes had higher infection rates and greater potential to transmit dengue virus than larger individuals. However, the researchers caution other components, such as adult longevity, host preference and feeding frequency determine a mosquito's vectoring ability that still needs to be taken into account in future studies.

The scientists said their findings have important implications for mosquito control strategies and evaluation of disease risk for dengue.

The study conducted by Barry Alto, director of the Medical Entomology Program at the Illinois Natural History Survey, a division of the University of Illinois Institute for Natural Resource Sustainability; Oklahoma State University Assistant Professor Michael Reiskind; and University of Florida Professor L. Philip Lounibos appears in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.