Experimental Studies on the Replication and Transmission of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus in some African Tick Species

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  • Department of Virology, University of the Witwatersrand and Special Pathogens Unit, National Institute for Virology, Tick Research Unit, Veterinary Research Institute, Sandringham, Republic of South Africa

Seven African tick species were studied as potential vectors of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus. Engorged nymphae of 4 ixodid species, Hyalomma marginatum rufipes, H. truncatum, Rhipicephalus evertsi mimeticus, and Amblyomma hebraeum, were inoculated intracoelomically with CCHF virus and assayed for virus content at varying times post-inoculation. The virus replicated in all 4 species, reaching maximum titers of 4.6–5.510 fluorescence focus units per ml on days 5–9 post-inoculation. Virus titers declined up to the molt, but increased slightly on emergence of adult ticks. Thereafter, virus titers declined progressively, but infectivity could still be detected in adult ticks for up to 205 days post-inoculation. Groups of H. m. rufipes, H. truncatum, and R. e. mimeticus infected adults were fed on susceptible sheep and successfully transmitted CCHF infection. CCHF virus was not isolated from pools of the larval and nymphal progeny of the female ticks nor did the larvae transmit infection to guinea pigs by bite. CCHF virus failed to replicate in adults and nymphae of 3 argasid tick species, Argas walkerae, Ornithodorus porcinus porcinus, and O. savignyi, after intracoelomic inoculation and could be reisolated from the ticks no later than 1 day post-inoculation. The results suggest that all ixodid ticks are capable of transmitting CCHF virus but argasid ticks do not appear to be capable of serving as vectors.

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