Habitat Associations of Eastern Equine Encephalitis Transmission in Walton County Florida

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Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus, habitat, arbovirus, GIS, transmission

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Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEV; family Togaviridae, genus Alphavirus) a highly pathogenic mosquito-borne virus is endemic to eastern North America. The ecology of EEEV in Florida differs from that in other parts of the United States; EEEV in the northeastern United States is historically associated with freshwater wetlands. No formal test of habitat associations of EEEV in Florida has been reported. Geographical Information Sciences (GIS) was used in conjunction with sentinel chicken EEEV seroconversion rate data as a means to examine landscape features associated with EEEV transmission in Walton County, FL. Sentinel sites were categorized as enzootic, periodically enzootic, and negative based on the number of chicken seroconversions to EEEV from 2005 to 2009. EEEV transmission was then categorized by land cover usage using Arc GIS 9.3. The land classification data were analyzed using the Kruskal—Wallis test for each land use class to determine which habitats may be associated with virus transmission as measured by sentinel chicken seroconversion rates. The habitat class found to be most significantly associated with EEEV transmission was tree plantations. The ecological factor most commonly associated with reduced levels of EEEV transmission was vegetated nonforest wetlands. Culiseta melanura (Coquillett), the species generally considered to be the major enzootic EEEV vector, was relatively evenly distributed across all habitat classes, while Aedes vexans (Meigen) and Anopheles crucians Weidemann were most commonly associated with tree plantation habitats.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Medical Entomology, v. 49, issue 3, p. 746‐756