Mosquito Vector

Ae. aegypti is uniquely adapted to a close association with humans and efficient transmission of dengue virus. Immature forms develop primarily in man-made containers. Highly anthropophilic adult females rest inside houses where they feed on human blood. Unlike most other mosquito species, which engage in a feeding duality of plant carbohydrates for synthesis of nutrient reserves and blood for egg development, female Ae. aegypti forego sugar meals and feed almost exclusively and frequently on human blood. Relatively low concentrations of the amino acid isoleucine in human blood are believed to be responsible for the ability of Ae. aegytpi to use only blood to meet their energy needs and to complete vitellogenesis. Females fed only human blood have higher measures of fitness (survival and reproduction), and thus a selective advantage, over those fed sugar and blood. Because females seldom disperse beyond 100 meters and consequently food, mates, and oviposition substrates are readily available within the human habitations where they reside, rapid synthesis of glycogen from sugar substrates for extended flight is not necessary. To meet their energy and reproductive needs, females must imbibe more than one blood meal in each gontorophic cycle, something that increases contact with human hosts and opportunities to contract or transmit a viral infection. Because of their unusual propensity to make frequent and preferential contact with humans, Ae. aegypti is an exceedingly efficient vector of dengue virus even though compared to other mosquito species they are not especially susceptible to virus infection. Relatively low Ae. aegypti population densities have been associated with virus transmission. It is expected that entomological thresholds for dengue virus are quite low.

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