Transovarial Transmission of Rio Grande Virus (Bunyaviridae: Phlebovirus) by the Sand Fly, Lutzomyia Anthophora

R. G. EndrisDepartment of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611

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R. B. TeshYale Arbovirus Research Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510

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D. G. YoungDepartment of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611

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The growth of Rio Grande (RG) virus, the only phlebovirus known to occur in the United States, was studied in Lutzomyia anthophora, its suspected sand fly vector. RG viral titers in infected flies increased more than 10,000-fold within 7 days after intrathoracic inoculation. Experimentally infected female L. anthophora transmitted virus transovarially (vertically) to 54.8% of their F1 progeny. This is the first virologically confirmed demonstration of transovarial transmission of a phlebovirus by sand flies. It indicates one mechanism by which RG and possibly other phleboviruses may be maintained in nature.

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