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Determinants of heterogeneous blood feeding patterns by Aedes aegypti in Iquitos, Peru.

  • Author(s): Liebman, Kelly A
  • Stoddard, Steven T
  • Reiner, Robert C
  • Perkins, T Alex
  • Astete, Helvio
  • Sihuincha, Moises
  • Halsey, Eric S
  • Kochel, Tadeusz J
  • Morrison, Amy C
  • Scott, Thomas W
  • et al.


Heterogeneous mosquito biting results in different individuals in a population receiving an uneven number of bites. This is a feature of many vector-borne disease systems that, if understood, could guide preventative control efforts toward individuals who are expected to contribute most to pathogen transmission. We aimed to characterize factors determining biting patterns of Aedes aegypti, the principal mosquito vector of dengue virus.

Methodology/principal findings

Engorged female Ae. aegypti and human cheek swabs were collected from 19 houses in Iquitos, Peru. We recorded the body size, age, and sex of 275 consenting residents. Movement in and out of the house over a week (time in house) and mosquito abundance were recorded on eight separate occasions in each household over twelve months. We identified the individuals bitten by 96 engorged mosquitoes over this period by amplifying specific human microsatellite markers in mosquito blood meals and human cheek swabs. Using a multinomial model assuming a saturating relationship (power), we found that, relative to other residents of a home, an individual's likelihood of being bitten in the home was directly proportional to time spent in their home and body surface area (p<0.05). A linear function fit the relationship equally well (ΔAIC<1).


Our results indicate that larger people and those who spend more time at home are more likely to receive Ae. aegypti bites in their homes than other household residents. These findings are consistent with the idea that measurable characteristics of individuals can inform predictions of the extent to which different people will be bitten. This has implications for an improved understanding of heterogeneity in different people's contributions to pathogen transmission, and enhanced interventions that include the people and places that contribute most to pathogen amplification and spread.

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