Predicting risk of Zika infections through co-occurrence of vector and host

Study showing the importance of non-human mammalian hosts in the maintenance of Zika virus reservoirs.

GBIF-mediated data resources used : 37,297 species occurrences
Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus jamaicensis)
The Jamaican fruit-eating bat (Artibeus jamaicensis) is a confirmed host of parasites causing Chagas disease and Leishmaniasis, and ranked third among potential Zika hosts in this study. Photo by magazhu licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Vector-borne public health treats such as Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya are caused by highly mutable arboviruses with potential for rapid adaptive changes in response to new hosts and host ranges. While mosquito vectors such as Aedes aegypti have been identified, understanding the role of mammalian reservoir hosts in the maintenance of arboviruses is crucial to limiting spread and emergence of these diseases.

In this study, researchers from Mexico used GBIF-mediated species occurrences to identify potential mammalian blood-meal sources for Ae. aegypti and as such, potential arbovirus hosts. These biotic interactions led to a ranked list of mammalian species, including seven bat species in the top 10, of which two species are already confirmed dengue hosts, and four species are hosts of protozoan parasites Leishmania mexicana and Trypanosoma cruzi.

Revealing a high correlation between significant mosquito-mammal interactions and confirmed human Zika infections, the study provides new material for future studies in Zika virus maintenance.

González-Salazar C, Stephens CR and Sánchez-Cordero V (2017) Predicting the Potential Role of Non-human Hosts in Zika Virus Maintenance. EcoHealth. Springer Nature 14(1): 171–177. Available at:

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  • Mexico
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  • Mexico
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  • Human health