Experimental Transmission of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus by West African Wild Ground-Feeding Birds to Hyalomma marginatum rufipes Ticks

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  • Institut Pasteur, Institut Francais de Recherche Scientifique pour le Developpement en Cooperation (ORSTOM), Dakar, Senegal
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Hyalomma (H.) marginatum rufipes ticks commonly infest birds and are potential vectors of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus in west Africa. An experimental model for investigating the role of birds in the CCHF virus transmission cycle was developed. Following CCHF virus inoculation, antibodies were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in one red-beaked hornbill and one glossy starling, but not in two laughing doves and six domestic chickens. None of the birds showed a detectable viremia. Hyalomma marginatum rufipes larvae were placed on three red-beaked hornbills and one glossy starling. These birds were then inoculated with CCHF virus (1015 50% mouse intracerebral lethal doses). Virus transmission to larvae or nymphs was obtained and seroconversions in birds were recorded. Virus was also detected in 90% of the individually tested nymphs, as well as in adults. The virus was then successfully transmitted by adult ticks to rabbits and the engorged females were allowed to oviposit. Progeny larvae were placed on another group of birds and one of three birds showed seroconversion. The cycle of transmission of virus between ticks and aviremic ground-feeding birds represent a potential reservoir and amplification mechanism of CCHF virus in west Africa.