The use of xenosurveillance to detect human bacteria, parasites, and viruses in mosquito bloodmeals

Joseph R. Fauver, Alex Gendernalik, James Weger-Lucarelli, Nathan D. Grubaugh, Doug E. Brackney, Brian D. Foy, Gregory D. Ebel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Infectious disease surveillance is hindered by several factors, including limited infrastructure and geographic isolation of many resource-poor regions. In addition, the complexities of sample acquisition, processing, and analysis, even in developed regions, can be rate limiting. Therefore, new strategies to survey human populations for emerging pathogens are necessary. Xenosurveillance is a method that utilizes mosquitoes as sampling devices to search for genetic signatures of pathogens in vertebrates. Previously we demonstrated that xenosurveillance can detect viral RNA in both laboratory and field settings. However, its ability to detect bacteria and parasites remains to be assessed. Accordingly, we fed Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes blood that contained Trypanosoma brucei gambiense and Bacillus anthracis. In addition, we determined whether two additional emerging viruses, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus and Zika virus could be detected by this method. Pathogen-specific real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction was used to evaluate the sensitivity of xenosurveillance across multiple pathogen taxa and over time. We detected RNA from all pathogens at clinically relevant concentrations from mosquitoes processed up to 1 day postbloodfeeding. These results demonstrate that xenosurveillance may be used as a tool to expand surveillance for viral, parasitic, and bacterial pathogens in resource-limited areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-329
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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