Abstract

Title:  The Culicoides Enigma: Which Biting Midge Species Are Important in HD Epidemiology in the Southeast?
Author(s): Mark G. Ruder, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study; Stacey L. Vigil, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study; David E. Stallknecht, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study; David Shaw, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study; Matthew D. Walter, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study; Clara Kienzle, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study; Kayla Garrett, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study; Joseph L. Corn, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study
Year: 2017
Abstract: Hemorrhagic disease (HD) of white-tailed deer (WTD; Odocoileus virginianus) is caused by epizootic hemorrhagic disease viruses (EHDV) or bluetongue viruses (BTV). Confirmed vectors include C. sonorensis (BTV and EHDV) and C. insignis (BTV only) but in endemic regions of the Southeast, other Culicoides species are suspected vectors. SCWDS is actively engaged in long-term monitoring of both Culicoides populations and HD activity in the Southeast. Collectively, these datasets help to recognize patterns of disease and improve our understanding of HD epidemiology. From 2007-2016, Culicoides were collected August-September using CDC miniature black-light traps at >275 sites throughout nine southeastern states. In addition, HD activity in the same study region was monitored by annual HD reporting by state wildlife management agencies using a questionnaire-based survey, along with diagnostic virology to isolate EHDV and BTV from WTD suspected to have HD. From 2007-2016, HD was reported annually within the study region and >150 viruses (EHDV and BTV) were isolated. Culicoides surveys in the same region over the study period yielded approximately 300,000 Culicoides, representing 44 species. C. insignis, a BTV vector, was commonly collected in Florida but was scarce outside of Florida. C. sonorensis (EHDV/BTV vector) was rarely recovered and was only present in 5% of sites in low numbers. Commonly collected Culicoides spp. over the entire survey area were C. haematopotus, C. stellifer, and C. debilipalpis. Absence of confirmed vectors throughout much of the study area, a region with endemic HD activity, indicates need for targeted studies aimed at incriminating suspect vectors.

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