Experimental Infection of Phlebotomus Papatasi with Sand Fly Fever Sicilian Virus

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  • Disease Assessment Division, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland 21701

Experimental studies were conducted to evaluate humans as hosts infecting the sand fly Phlebotomus papatasi with sand fly fever Sicilian (SFS) virus. Viral antigen and infectious virus circulated in the blood of infected volunteers on days 4 and 5 after intravenous inoculation with SFS virus. Viremia levels during the latter period were high enough to infect feeding sand flies, but only 13% (9/69) of the flies became infected. One out of every 3 infected sand flies that survived to feed a second time transmitted SFS to a hamster. These results confirm a vertebrate-sand fly-vertebrate transmission cycle for SFS virus, and demonstrate that horizontal transmission may contribute to the maintenance of this virus in nature.