Common host-derived chemicals increase catches of disease-transmitting mosquitoes and can improve early warning systems for rift valley fever virus

20 Mar 2013

Rift Valley fever (RVF), a mosquito-borne zoonosis, is a major public health and veterinary problem in sub-Saharan Africa. Surveillance to monitor mosquito populations during the inter-epidemic period (IEP) and viral activity in these vectors is critical to informing public health decisions for early warning and control of the disease. Using a combination of field bioassays, electrophysiological and chemical analyses we demonstrated that skin-derived aldehydes (heptanal, octanal, nonanal, decanal) common to RVF virus (RVFV) hosts including sheep, cow, donkey, goat and human serve as potent attractants for RVFV mosquito vectors. Furthermore, a blend formulated from the four aldehydes and combined with CO2- baited CDC trap without a light bulb doubled to tripled trap captures compared to control traps baited with CO2 alone. Our results reveal that (a) because of the commonality of the host chemical signature required for attraction, the host-vector interaction appears to favor the mosquito vector allowing it to find and opportunistically feed on a wide range of mammalian hosts of the disease, and (b) the sensitivity, specificity and superiority of this trapping system offers the potential for its wider use in surveillance programs for RVFV mosquito vectors especially during the IEP.