Arthropod‐borne Viruses


Arthropod‐borne viruses (arboviruses) may infect and replicate in haematophagus insects and arachnids when the arthropods take a bloodmeal from an infected vertebrate. Following an appropriate incubation period, the arthropod may transmit the amplified virus to susceptible vertebrates when the arthropod takes a subsequent bloodmeal. Of more than 500 recognised arboviruses, almost 100 cause a wide variety of illnesses in humans, livestock, and/or wildlife species ranging from subclinical infection to mild febrile disease, haemorrhagic fever, encephalitis or death. Arboviruses have wide geographic distributions which are largely dependent upon their vectors, and different arboviruses can be found on all continents including Antarctica. Since very few specific antiviral therapies or arbovirus vaccines exist, control focuses primarily on vector elimination and education on arthropod avoidance. Arbovirus prevalence has increased dramatically during the past 3 decades, with viral emergence and re‐emergence driven by urbanisation, increased international travel and commercial transportation, and expanding vector distribution.

Key Concepts:

  • Arboviruses infect and replicate in insects and ticks and may be transmitted during blood feeding to susceptible vertebrates, including humans.

  • ‘Arbovirus’ is an ecological term, and the recognised arboviruses are found in the families Togaviridae, Flaviviridae, Bunyaviridae, Orthomyxoviridae, Rhabdoviridae, Reoviridae, and Asfarviridae.

  • Most arboviruses are single‐stranded RNA viruses.

  • Infection with an arbovirus may be asymptomatic or may cause fever, haemorrhage, encephalitis, with or without sequelae and death.

  • Currently licensed human vaccines only exist for yellow fever virus (YFV), Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) and tick‐borne encephalitis virus (TBEV).

  • Arbovirus prevalence in specific regions fluctuates, but emergence and re‐emergence has caused an increase in human infections over the past 30 years.

Keywords: arboviruses; arthropods; fever; rash; encephalitis; haemorrhagic

Figure 1.

Biological transmission of arboviruses by the mosquito. A. aegypti photograph courtesy of Stephen Higgs.

Figure 2.

Predicted CHIKV dispersal, 1953–2007. Reproduced from de Lamballerie et al. (). © Springer Science+Business Media.



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Vanlandingham, Dana L, and McElroy Horne, Kate(Jun 2014) Arthropod‐borne Viruses. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001005.pub3]