Mosquito Blood Feeding Patterns as a Factor in the Epidemiology of Japanese Encephalitis in Southern India

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  • Centre for Research in Medical Entomology, Madurai, India

Determinations were made of the source of 16, 330 bloodmeals from 10 species of Culex mosquitoes, including recognized vectors of Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus, in two epidemiologically distinct areas in southern India. In Madurai, where cases occurred sporadically and pigs were reared only in some villages, Cx. tritaeniorhynchus, Cx. pseudovishnui, and Cx. vishnui had fed predominantly on cattle (89.2–91%), but less frequently on humans (2.1–6.2%) and on pigs and ardeid birds (0–0.1%). In Nallur, which was endemic for JE and had a large pig population, 4.4–5.4% of the feedings were on these hosts. Cattle feedings accounted for 84.6–88% of the total feedings, human feedings for 2.4–6.2%, but there were no ardeid-positive feedings. Culex tritaeniorhynchus and Cx. vishnui showed a marked increase in the proportion of human feedings during the hot season, due to increased availability of humans sleeping outdoors to mainly exophagic mosquitoes. Feeding indices were corrected for spatial and temporal concurrence of hosts in each season, but these factors were found to require further elucidation. Discrepancies in the relative abundance of vectors as monitored by two different methods are discussed in the light of these observations.