Everglades virus (EVEV), an enzootic subtype of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, along with its endemic mosquito vector, Culex cedecei, is known only from South Florida. The taxonomy of Cx. cedecei is complex and was once synonymous with Culex opisthopus and Culex taeniopus. We modeled potential distribution of Cx. cedecei in Florida and the Caribbean using an ecological niche model and compared this distribution to the recorded distribution of EVEV in Florida as well as historical records of Cx. opisthopus/Cx. taeniopus. We used recent collections and occurrence data from scientific publications and temperature/precipitation variables and vegetation greenness values to calibrate models. We found mean annual temperature contributed the greatest to model performance. Everglades virus in humans and wildlife corresponded with areas predicted suitable for Cx. cedecei in Florida but not with incidence of antibodies reported in dogs. Most records of Cx. opisthopus/Cx. taeniopus in the Caribbean did not correspond to areas predicted suitable for Cx. cedecei, which may be due to mean annual temperature values in the Caribbean exceeding values within the calibration region, imposing model constraints. Results indicated that this model may adequately predict the distributions of Cx. cedecei within Florida but cannot predict areas suitable in the Caribbean.
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Vol. 47 • No. 1