Japanese Encephalitis on Saipan: a Survey of Suspected Mosquito Vectors

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  • Medical Entomology-Ecology Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Public Health, Commonwealth Health Center, Fort Collins, Colorado

An outbreak of Japanese encephalitis (JE) occurred on Saipan, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, in October 1990. Adult and larval mosquitoes were collected during September–October 1991 to retrospectively determine the probable mosquito vector(s). Virus was not isolated from 119 mosquito pools composed of 7,250 adult specimens as follows: Aedes vexans nocturnis (14%), Culex tritaeniorhynchus (39%), Cx. sitiens group (11%), Culex (Culex) species (35%), and < 1% each of Ae. albopictus, Ae. oakleyi, Aedes saipanensis, Cx. annulirostris marianae, and Cx. fuscanus. Three additional species were collected only as larvae: Anopheles indefinitus, Ae. neopandani, and Cx. quinquefasciatus. Among the vectors of JE incriminated in other areas, Cx. tritaeniorhynchus was the predominant species in our collections and the principal species feeding on swine. This is the first published record of the occurrence of this species on Saipan. Culex tritaeniorhynchus is abundant and widely distributed on the southern half of Saipan where human JE cases occurred in 1990, and where swine seroconversions were detected. Although the identity of the mosquito vector(s) responsible for the 1990 outbreak cannot be established with certainty, our results suggest that Cx. tritaeniorhynchus was probably involved.