, Volume 148, Issue 6, pp 1085-1093

Isolation of a new flavivirus related to Cell fusing agent virus (CFAV) from field-collected flood-water Aedes mosquitoes sampled from a dambo in central Kenya

Summary.

 Cell fusing agent virus (CFAV) is an RNA insect virus that was isolated from a line of Aedes aegypti mosquito cells and has been assigned to the family Flaviviridae, genus Flavivirus. We report here the first isolation of a CFA-like virus from field-collected mosquitoes. Mosquito larvae and pupae were sampled from flooded dambos in Central Province, Kenya during the short rain season of 1999. Specimens were reared to adults, identified and pooled by species and were tested for the presence of virus. Two virus isolates were obtained from two pools of Aedes macintoshi mosquitoes. The virus isolates replicated only in invertebrate cells in culture and not in vertebrate cells or in mice. The virus isolates did not antigenically cross-react with known arboviruses but were identified to family by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) performed using primers specific to alphaviruses, bunyaviruses and flaviviruses; only the flavivirus-specific primers produced a DNA fragment of the expected size. Nucleic acid sequencing of this fragment showed the two isolates to be nearly identical. Comparison of sequences to the GenBank database using BLAST identified the virus as most closely related to CFAV. Results from cross-neutralization tests suggested that, although the BLAST search indicated homology to CFAV, the virus isolated represented a new insect flavivirus. Detailed characterization of this new virus, described in Crabtree et al. [7], further supports this finding. We propose this new flavivirus be designated Kamiti River virus (KRV). This is the first isolation of a CFA-like virus from field-collected mosquitoes and indicates the presence of this group of viruses in nature.

Received October 23, 2002; accepted January 6, 2003 Published online April 9, 2003