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DeFuniak Springs, FL, United States

Estep L.K.,Oregon State University | McClure C.J.W.,Auburn University | Vander Kelen P.,University of South Florida | Burkett-Cadena N.D.,University of South Florida | And 10 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

For a variety of infectious diseases, the richness of the community of potential host species has emerged as an important factor in pathogen transmission, whereby a higher richness of host species is associated with a lowered disease risk. The proposed mechanism driving this pattern is an increased likelihood in species-rich communities that infectious individuals will encounter dead-end hosts. Mosquito-borne pathogen systems potentially are exceptions to such "dilution effects" because mosquitoes vary their rates of use of vertebrate host species as bloodmeal sources relative to host availabilities. Such preferences may violate basic assumptions underlying the hypothesis of a dilution effect in pathogen systems. Here, we describe development of a model to predict exposure risk of sentinel chickens to eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) in Walton County, Florida between 2009 and 2010 using avian species richness as well as densities of individual host species potentially important to EEEV transmission as candidate predictor variables. We found the highest support for the model that included the density of northern cardinals, a highly preferred host of mosquito vectors of EEEV, as a predictor variable. The highest-ranking model also included Culiseta melanura abundance as a predictor variable. These results suggest that mosquito preferences for vertebrate hosts influence pathogen transmission. Source

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