Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Preventive Medicine, Iowa State University, Departments of Entomology and Virology, Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences, National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Department of Virology, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Ames, Iowa, Thailand
In addition to heavily infecting the salivary glands of Aedes aegypti (L.) mosquitoes, dengue viruses produce a significant infection of the nervous system, involving the brain, Johnston's organ, compound eye, and thoracic and abdominal ganglion. To determine if dengue infection affects feeding behavior of Ae. aegypti we measured feeding times, counted the number of feeding delays or interruptions, and by in situ immunocytochemistry techniques determined the spatial and temporal distribution of dengue infections in females parenterally infected with dengue 3 virus. The mean of the total time required for feeding by infected mosquitoes was significantly longer than the time required by uninfected mosquitoes. Similarly, the mean of the time spent probing was significantly longer in infected mosquitoes than in uninfected mosquitoes when day after inoculation was considered. Significant increases in the length of feeding activity in infected mosquitoes corresponded to virus infection in organs that are known to control or influence activities associated with blood feeding. Sequential infections of the salivary glands (five days postinoculation [PI]), brain and compound eye (eight days PI), and Johnston's organ and midgut and abdominal ganglion (11 days PI) of most mosquitoes were observed. The increased time required by infected Ae. aegypti mosquitoes to acquire a blood meal may contribute to the efficiency of Ae. aegypti as a vector of dengue virus. Longer feeding periods are more likely to be interrupted by the host, which increases the chance that an infected mosquito will probe or feed on additional hosts.