INTRODUCTION : Yellow fever (YF) and dengue (DEN) viruses are important re-emerging mosquito-borne viruses sharing similar vectors and reservoirs. The last documented YF outbreak in Kenya occurred in 1992–95. However, YF virus is re-emerging in bordering countries including Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan with the potential for spread to the neighboring regions in Kenya. Dengue is endemic in Kenya with outbreaks being detected in various towns in the north and the coast. This study reports on the Aedes (Stegomyia) mosquito species occurrence, diversity, and blood feeding patterns, as means of measuring the risk of transmission of YF and DEN in Kacheliba sub-county, West Pokot County, which borders previous YF outbreak areas in eastern Uganda. METHODOLOGY : Adult mosquitoes were collected using CO2-baited BG Sentinel traps at three time points during the rainy season. Mosquitoes were identified to the species level. Species abundance during the three sampling periods were compared, with emphasis on Aedes aegypti and other Stegomyia species, using generalized linear models that included mosquito diversity. Individually blood-fed mosquitoes were analyzed by DNA amplification of the 12S rRNA gene followed by sequencing to determine the source of blood meal. RESULTS : Overall, 8605 mosquitoes comprising 22 species in 5 genera were collected. Sampled Stegomyia species included Ae. aegypti (77.3%), Ae. vittatus (11.4%), Ae. metallicus (10.2%) and Ae. unilineatus (1.1%). Ae. aegypti dominated the blood-fed specimens (77%, n = 68) and were found to have fed mostly on rock hyraxes (79%), followed by goats (9%), humans and cattle (each 4%), with a minor proportion on hippopotamus and rock monitor lizards (each comprising 1%).
CONCLUSION : Our findings reveal the presence of important Stegomyia species, which are known potential vectors of YF and DEN viruses. In addition, evidence of more host feeding on wild and domestic animals (hyrax and goat) than humans was observed. How the low feeding on humans translates to risk of transmission of these viruses, remains unclear, but calls for further research including vector competence studies of the mosquito populations for these viruses. This forms part of a comprehensive risk assessment package to guide decisions on implementation of affordable and sustainable vaccination (YF) and vector control plans in West Pokot County, Kenya.