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Saliva is considered to be the conduit by which pathogens are transmitted from blood-sucking arthropod vectors to their vertebrate hosts, but supporting evidence for this is fragmentary. To determine if Thogoto (THO) virus, a tick-borne member of the influenza virus family, is transmitted via tick saliva, and whether virus replication is a prerequisite for such transmission, two experimental conditions were compared: (1) "biological transmission" and (2) "mechanical transmission." In (1), THO virus was allowed to infect and replicate in a natural vector, Amblyomma variegatum: virus was detected in saliva collected from 3/22 (14%) ticks. In (2), virus was inoculated directly into the hemocoel with the drug used to induce salivation and saliva was collected immediately to preclude the possibility of virus replication: virus was detected in saliva collected from 31/170 (18%) ticks. The results demonstrate that THO virus is secreted in tick saliva and that virus can pass from the hemolymph to the salivary glands independently of viral replication within the tick. The comparatively low numbers of ticks that yielded virus-positive saliva samples together with the results from assays of serial saliva samples suggested that virus secretion may not be a continuous process during salivation. Ticks in which THO virus had established an infection showed an impaired secretory response compared with uninfected ticks and ticks used for mechanical transmission.

Original publication




Journal article


Exp Parasitol

Publication Date





316 - 323


Analysis of Variance, Animals, Arachnid Vectors, Cercopithecus aethiops, Dopamine, Female, Guinea Pigs, Hemolymph, Male, Parasympathomimetics, Pilocarpine, Saliva, Salivation, Thogotovirus, Ticks, Vero Cells, Viral Plaque Assay, Virus Replication