The vector biology part aims at generating new knowledge on host susceptibility for WNV, and vector competence – the ability of the vector to transmit the virus – of the two main vectors of WNV and CHIKV.
Host susceptibility of European birds for the different WNV strains circulating in Europe is determined, thereby providing an important piece of information regarding the risk of the spreading potential of WNV and potential to cause outbreaks of human disease, such as the ability of birds to serve as a reservoir for maintaining WNV. The vector competence of European Culex pipiens mosquitoes for the different WNV strains and their feeding behaviour have so far not been investigated for European vectors. It is in fact not known whether European Culex pipiens mosquitoes transmit WNV to animals or humans. We study the vector competence and feeding behaviour of Culex pipiens mosquitoes, which is esssential in formulating and focusing a prevention plan. With regard to CHIKV, the effect of temperature on vector competence of Aedes albopictus mosquitoes for CHIKV will be determined. This knowledge is necessary to be able to address the question whether Aedes albopictus will be able to efficiently transmit pathogenic CHIKV among the human population in temperate climate zones.