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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Georgia Southern: Completes Pilot Survey of Mosquitos from Southeastern Georgia for Wolbachia and Rickettia felis

Mosquito surveillance is one of the critical functions of local public health departments, particularly during the outbreaks of severe mosquito-borne viral infections. Unfortunately, some viral and parasitic infections transmitted by mosquitoes manifest with non-specific clinical symptoms which could be caused by other pathogens including Rickettsia felis. This study tested the hypothesis that mosquitoes from southeastern Georgia, in the U.S., may be infected with R. felisand Wolbachia endosymbiont used for mosquito control.

Specimens of the five most common mosquito species occurring in Statesboro were tested using molecular methods to confirm morphological mosquito identification and to detect the presence of target bacteria.

Two genotypes of Wolbachia, A and B were detected in 66.7 to 97.9percent tested pools of Culexmosquitoes and 95.5 percent of Aedes albopictus; however, DNA of Anophelesspecies were negative for Wolbachia. DNA of R. feliswas not found in any pool of mosquitos tested. Dr. Eremeeva stated that this publication highlights the importance of undergraduate student involvement in faculty research programs for both students and faculty. All testing for this project was carried out by Mr. Matt Anderson who developed a new detection assay for his research project supported by the ASM Undergraduate Fellowship. This study provided pilot scale data on the high presence of Wolbachiain mosquitos prevalent in southeastern Georgia. Since Wolbachiais an increasingly important biological-vector control strategy, further studies are warranted to confirm the diversity of circulating Wolbachiagenotypes and to examine its variability in mosquito populations from more sites the region.

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