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Age-structured vectorial capacity reveals timing, not magnitude of within-mosquito dynamics is critical for arbovirus fitness assessment.

Abstract

, defined as the time to first observed minimum proportion of transmitting mosquitoes and the time to observed maximum proportion of transmitting mosquitoes.

may be overestimated by using non-age-structured VC.

Transmission dynamics of arboviruses like Zika virus are often evaluated by vector competence (the proportion of infectious vectors given exposure) and the extrinsic incubation period (EIP, the time it takes for a vector to become infectious), but vector age is another critical driver of transmission dynamics. Vectorial capacity (VC) is a measure of transmission potential of a vector-pathogen system, but how these three components, EIP, vector competence and vector age, affect VC in concert still needs study.

The results indicate that ultimately the temporal component of the virus-vector dynamics is most critical, especially when exposure occurred at advanced mosquito age. While our study is limited to a single virus-vector system, and a multitude of other factors affect both vector competence and mosquito mortality, our methods can be extrapolated to these other scenarios. Results indicate that how 'highly' or 'negligibly' competent vectors are categorized may need adjustment.

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