Zoophilic Mosquitos Diversity, Blood-Meal Sources and Arbovirus Carriage at Wildlife-Human Interfaces in Masai Mara and Shimba Hills National Reserves, Kenya
Musa, Ali Abdulahi
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Zoophilic mosquitoes transmit arthropod-borne viruses of medical importance to humans. These mosquito vectors are understudied with surveillance efforts focused mostly on anthropophilic mosquitoes. The primary objective of this study was to determine the diversity of zoophilic mosquitoes, their preference for a blood meal, and associated viruses at wildlife-human interfaces of the Masai Mara National game Reserve in Narok County and those areas surrounding the Shimba Hills National game Reserve in Kwale County, Kenya. The cross-sectional mosquito survey was purposive in which sampling sites were deliberately chosen based on favorable ecology for the breeding of zoophilic mosquito species, encroaching human settlements along the reserve’s borders, and reported cases of human arboviral infections. Sampling of the was done using CDC light traps and Biogent (BG) sentinel traps baited with carbon dioxide and was immediately stored in liquid nitrogen tanks. Mosquitoes were morphologically identified and a representative of these was confirmed by molecular methods. Identification of blood meal sources was done by HRM and sequencing of PCR products of cytochrome b gene, 16S rRNA, and COI from the content of each mosquito’s abdomen. For arboviruses, identification was done by HRM and sequencing of Flavivirus and Alphavirus. A total of 722 mosquitoes were sampled in MMNR and 2136 mosquitoes in locations near the SHNR. Five mosquito genera were identified, Aedes, Culex, Anopheles, Mansonia, and Eretmapodites. The most sampled genus was Culex, with Culex pipiens being the most sampled species (35.8%). The Culex genus also had the greatest diversity with nine species being identified, followed by five Aedes spp. Out of 2,858 mosquitoes collected, 51 (1.8 %) had blood meals from a variety of vertebrate hosts, including humans. Most of the blood meal sources were from humans (81.3%, n = 39), followed by house crows (6.3%, n = 3). A mixed blood meal was found from one Eretmapodites chrysogaster where hippopotamus and human blood was identified. A first case of dengue type to be detected in Aedes tarsalis and Aedes tricholabis was reecorded for samples collected in MMNR. Sindbis was also identified in MMNR in a male Cx. pipiens. In SHNR, dengue type two was found in Ae. aegypti sampled. The dengue two positive Aedes tarsalis had a blood meal from a bushbuck. Sylvatic DENV-2 and SINV are circulating among zoophilic mosquitoes in the study area hence pose a high risk of outbreaks in the area and thus, a systematic surveillance and control programs for these mosquito remains a priority in prevention of future outbreaks.