Two Possible Mechanisms for Survival and Initiation of Murray Valley Encephalitis Virus Activity in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia

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  • Department of Microbiology, The University of Western Australia, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Environmental Health Branch, Health Department of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia

Two possible mechanisms are described for the initiation of Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) virus activity in arid, epizootic regions of tropical Australia. Virus isolations were made from mosquitoes trapped shortly after the first heavy wet season rains and flooding in the east Kimberley, which followed approximately nine months of drought. A number of isolates of MVE virus were obtained, including isolates from pools of blood-engorged Culex annulirostris mosquitoes and from a single pool of male Aedes tremulus mosquitoes. The results strongly suggested that MVE virus activity was due both to its introduction in viremic vertebrate hosts, from which first-generation mosquitoes became infected following blood meals, and also to reactivation of vertically transmitted virus from desiccation-resistant eggs of Ae. tremulus. Both mechanisms are discussed with respect to environmental conditions.