Collectively, members of the Cx. pipiens complex represent the most important Culex species from a medical and veterinary standpoint because they are vectors of St. Louis encephalitis virus in eastern and south central North America (Tsai and Mitchell 1989), West Nile virus in northeastern United States (Lanciotti et al. 2000) and Europe (Hubalek and Halouzka 1999), Rift Valley fever virus (Meegan 1979), Wuchereria bancrofti (Farid et al. 2001), Dirofilaria immitis (Lai et al. 2000), and bird malarias such as Plasmodium relictum (Atkinson et al. 1995, in Cornel et al. 2002).
West Nile viral encephalitis is a zoonosis and people and horses are incidentally infected with the virus by mosquitoes that feed on both avian and mammalian hosts (Komar 2000, in Apperson et al. 2002). As Culex spp. actively search for blood hosts during the nighttime hours people are more susceptible to biting by mosquitoes during the night (Apperson et al. 2002).
In Hawaii C. quinquefasciatus is a cyclopropagative vector (in which the pathogen undergoes further development and multiplication) for avian malaria, and a mechanical vector (in which the pathogen is carried on or in mouthparts and legs) for avian pox. The endemic birds of Hawaii are more susceptible to both of these pathogens than are introduced birds (Atkinson et al. 2000, Yorinks & Atkinson 2000, Van Riper et al. 2002).
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