Sandra R. Abbo, Tessa M. Visser, Haidong Wang, Giel P. Göertz, Jelke J. Fros, Marleen H.C. Abma-Henkens, Corinne Geertsema, Chantal B.F. Vogels, Marion P.G. Koopmans, Chantal B.E.M. Reusken, Sonja Hall-Mendelin, Roy A. Hall, Monique M. van Oers, Constantianus J.M. Koenraadt, Gorben P. Pijlman
Arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) cause a high disease burden in humans and animals. Zika virus (ZIKV) causes microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome in humans, whereas Usutu virus (USUV) induces high mortality in birds and neurological disease in humans. The spread of arboviruses such as ZIKV and USUV is determined by the presence of mosquitoes that can transmit these viruses from one vertebrate host to the next. Here, we investigate the risk of transmission of ZIKV and USUV by the Asian bush mosquito Aedes japonicus. This mosquito is invading Europe and is currently present in the Netherlands. We found that field-collected Ae. japonicus mosquitoes can experimentally transmit ZIKV and USUV. Of the orally infected mosquitoes, 3% (ZIKV) and 13% (USUV) showed virus-positive saliva after 14 days at 28°C. We also found that ZIKV and USUV activated the antiviral RNA interference immune response of Ae. japonicus. Moreover, a strong barrier in the mosquito midgut restricted virus dissemination, since 96% (ZIKV) and 88% (USUV) of the mosquitoes injected with ZIKV or USUV showed virus-positive saliva. Additionally, we discovered a narnavirus in Ae. japonicus. Given that Ae. japonicus can transmit ZIKV and USUV, we should consider this mosquito as a potential vector for arboviral diseases in Europe.