George Washington University
Given the recent emergence of chikungunya in the Americas, the accuracy of forecasting and prediction of chikungunya transmission potential in the U.S. requires urgent assessment. The La Reunion-associated sub-lineage of chikungunya (with a valine substitution in the envelope protein) was shown to increase viral fitness in the secondary vector, Ae. albopictus. Subsequently, a majority of experimental and modeling efforts focused on this combination of a sub-lineage of the East-Central-South African genotype (ECSA-V)-Ae. albopictus, despite the Asian genotype being the etiologic agent of recent chikungunya outbreaks world-wide. We explore a collection of data to investigate relative transmission efficiencies of the three major genotypes/sub-lineages of chikungunya and found difference in the extrinsic incubation periods to be largely overstated. However, there is strong evidence supporting the role of Ae. albopictus in the expansion of chikungunya that our R0 calculations cannot attribute to fitness increases in one vector over another. This suggests other ecological factors associated with the Ae. albopictus-ECSA-V cycle may drive transmission intensity differences. With the apparent bias in literature, however, we are less prepared to evaluate transmission where Ae. aegypti plays a significant role. Holistic investigations of CHIKV transmission cycle(s) will allow for more complete assessment of transmission risk in areas affected by either or both competent vectors.