Bionomics of vector-borne diseases in sites adjacent to lakes Victoria and Baringo in Kenya
Bionomics of vector-borne pathogens (VBPs) is a complex phenomenon that involves understanding the ecology of arthropod borne pathogens and vertebrate hosts potentially involved in their transmission cycles. Investigations into the bionomics of viral and bacterial VBPs circulating in Baringo and Homa Bay Counties of Kenya were carried out. Specifically, vertebrate hosts represented in mosquito bloodmeals, presence of arboviruses in blood fed mosquitoes and patients presenting with acute undiagnosed febrile illnesses in rural health facilities, and tick borne pathogens (TBPs) diversity in ticks of animals were identified. Mosquitoes were trapped by BG sentinel and CDC light traps, while ticks were sampled directly from domestic animals and tortoises close to human habitation along the shores and adjacent islands of Lakes Victoria and Baringo in Kenya. Blood and sera were also sampled from patients presenting with acute febrile illnesses visiting four rural health facilities in Homa Bay County. Mosquitoes and ticks were sorted and identified to species using standard morphological taxonomic keys. All the biological samples (blood-fed mosquitoes, ticks and blood/sera) were processed using molecular and culture procedures for detection of VBPs (arboviruses, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Rickettsia and protozoa). Among 445 blood-fed Aedeomyia, Aedes, Anopheles, Culex, Mansonia, and Mimomyia mosquitoes, 33 bloodmeal hosts were identified including humans, eight domestic animal species, six peridomestic animal species and 18 wildlife species. Further detection of Sindbis and Bunyamwera viruses was done on blood-fed mosquito homogenates by Vero cell culture and RTPCR in Culex, Aedeomyia, Anopheles and Mansonia mosquitoes from Baringo that had fed on humans and livestock. In TBPs assay, 585 tick pools were analysed consisting of 4,126 ticks collected in both study areas. More ticks were sampled in Baringo (80.5%), compared to Homa Bay (19.5%). In Baringo, agents of ehrlichiosis were detected from Amblyomma and Rhipicephalus ticks including Ehrlichia ruminantium (12.3%), Ehrichia canis (10.5%) and Paracoccus sp. (4.4%). Agents of anaplasmosis included Anaplasma ovis (7.2%), Anaplasma platys (4.4%) and Anaplasma bovis (4.0%), all from Hyalomma, Amblyomma and Rhipicephalus ticks, as well as agents of rickettsiosis, including Rickettsia africae, Rickettsia aeschlimannii, Rickettsia rhipicephali, Rickettsia montanensis and a Rickettsia sp. that was not conclusively characterized. Babesia caballi, Theileria sp. and Hepatozoon fitzsimonsi were also detected from both Rhipicephalus ticks and Amblyomma ticks. In Homa Bay, Ehrichia ruminantium (17.5%) and Ehrichia canis (9.3%) were isolated from Amblyomma latum and Rhipicephalus pulchellus, as well as Anaplasma platys (14.4%) and Anaplasma ovis (14.4%) from Amblyomma and Rhipicephalus species. In determination of the occurrence of arboviruses among patients presenting with acute febrile illnesses, acute Bunyamwera 3 (0.9%) and Sindbis 2 (0.6%) infections were detected by RT-PCR and cell culture and Sindbis seroprevalence was determined by plaque assay. Though a significant proportion of these patients tested positive for low Plasmodium parasitemia, none were co-infected with Plasmodium parasites and arboviruses. This study highlights the presence and relative importance of zoonotic VBPs in both study areas.