Insects and Infectious Diseases - CNRS URA3012  

  HEADProf. REITER Paul /

  Annual Report

Over the past decade, vector-borne diseases have acquired high profile in scientific, public and political discourse on “emerging” pathogens, particularly in the context of climate change and other environmental concerns. IMI addresses three topics of importance in this debate.

Genetic control of Aedes aegypti

The mosquito Aedes aegypti is the principal urban vector of dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. There is little doubt that the methods currently used to control this species have negligible impact on transmission, so there is an urgent need for new and innovative approaches.

Bio-engineering is a major focus of research in agricultural and public health entomology. Oxitec, our UK collaborators ( have created a strain of Ae. aegypti with a dominant gene that is repressed by tetracycline. The aim is to release transgenic males in the field and for these to mate with wild females (hence RIDL: Release of Insects carrying a Dominant Lethal gene). Female Ae. aegypti are monogamous, and tetracycline is unlikely to be present in breeding sites, so the progeny that result from these matings will die. We are studying the ‘fitness’ of strains of RIDL males in terms of competition, survival and reproductive capacity. Oxitec have provided us with a new, sex-linked strain in which the gene is only active in female progeny, thus providing a “driver” for the lethal gene in the field. We are also conducting field studies of the dispersal and survival of wild male Aedes albopictus—a vector of chikungunya virus—on the island of La Réunion.

Epidemiology of West Nile virus in Europe

West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that is mainly transmitted between birds but can also infect mammals. It travels between continents in migratory birds, and is the world’s most widely distributed arthropod-borne virus. In the past decade, major urban epidemics of WNV encephalitis in Bucharest and Volgograd have generated fears of the emergence of a new public health problem. IMI is directing a €1.4 million EC-funded study (codename EDEN-WN) of WNV transmission at sites in Spain, France, Italy, Czech Republic and Romania Similar studies are under way in Senegal, and we hope to incorporate Saharan oases in Algeria and Tunisia. Participants are committed to a common protocol to identify ornithophilic vectors, determine their vector competence, identify potential bridge vectors, determine seroprevalence in resident and migratory birds, assess the role of ectoparasites in viral maintenance, assess overwintering of virus in mosquitoes and monitor seasonal seroconversion in horses. A “horizontal” sub-project applies satellite-derived information and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology to our data to model present and future geographic distribution and transmission.

Vertical transmission of Yellow Fever virus

Recent field studies indicate that transmission of yellow fever virus via the egg stage may be more significant than is apparent in the laboratory. We have selected a range of parameters that may account for this anomaly and designed a special apparatus to test them. The project has a field component conducted by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) in Cameroon.

Course: Arthropod Vectors and Human Health

This is a new course on the biology and ecology of vectors, and the dynamics and control of the pathogens they transmit. It is approved as module of a Masters degree at Université de Versailles and a Graduate Degree at Paris Universities 6 and 7.

Arthropod collection

We maintain a unique collection of ca. 300,000 specimens of arthropods, spanning nearly two centuries, and including many type specimens. This is consulted by specialists from around the world. Information on 200,000 mosquitoes and ticks have been incorporated in a data base that is available on the web.

Keywords: Vector, mosquito, Aedes, genetic control, West Nile, Yellow Fever, course, arthropod collection



Reiter, P. 2007. Oviposition, dispersal, and survival in Aedes aegypti: implications for the efficacy of control strategies. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis, 7(2): p. 261-73. PMID: 17627447

Reiter, P., D. Fontenille, and C. Paupy. 2006. Aedes albopictus as an epidemic vector of chikungunya virus: another emerging problem? Lancet Infect Dis,. 6(8): p. 463-4. PMID: 16870524

Hartemink, N.A., David S.A., Reiter P., Hubalek Z. and Heesterbeek J.A. 2007. Importance of Bird-to-Bird Transmission for the Establishment of West Nile Virus. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis,. 7(4): p. 575-84. PMID: 17979541

Balenghien, T., Vazeille M., Reiter P., Schaffner F., Zeller H., Bicout D.J. 2007. Evidence of laboratory vector competence of Culex modestus for West Nile virus. J Am Mosq Control Assoc, 23(2): p. 233-6. PMID: 17847861

Reddy, M.R., Spielman A., Lepore T.J., Henley D., Kiszewski A.E. and Reiter P. 2006. Efficacy of resmethrin aerosols applied from the road for suppressing Culex vectors of West Nile virus. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis, 6(2): p. 117-27. PMID: 16796509

Activity Reports 2007 - Institut Pasteur
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