(UNDATED) – As summer approaches Hoosiers are worried mosquitoes might spread COVID-19.
Professor of Entomology/Vector Biology Catherine Hill says there are many reasons it’s “extremely unlikely” that mosquitoes can transmit the virus.
“It is early days but we’re always looking at things from risk management and assessment perspective and I think the risk is very low,” Hill said.
COVID-19 belongs to the coronavirus family and other viruses in the same family – such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) – are not transmitted through mosquitoes or ticks, she added.
Some viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19, and investigations are ongoing.
Although coronavirus has been found in blood samples from infected people, there’s no evidence it can spread via mosquitoes.
Even if a mosquito did pick up a high enough dose of the virus in a blood meal, there is no evidence the virus would be able to infect the mosquito itself. And if the mosquito isn’t infected, it won’t be able to transmit it to the next person she bites.
She offered these points to help calm Hoosier’s fears:
- While research is still ongoing into primary routes of transmission, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is a “respiratory virus” and is primarily transmitted by “aerosol” route; sneezing/coughing and touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your face. Although it has been detected at low levels in the blood, there is no evidence it can be transmitted via a bite from a mosquito.
- It’s true that mosquitoes can transmit some viruses such as dengue and Zika, but they don’t transmit all viruses.
- For a mosquito to become infected with SARS-CoV-2, it would have to feed on the blood of an infected person, acquire the virus, which would have to pass into the midgut of the mosquito, infect the salivary glands, replicate and then be passed to another person during a second blood meal. This whole process takes 10-14 days and during this time a virus would have to overcome physical and physiological barriers. There is no biological evidence that any virus in the coronavirus family is capable of achieving this feat. Transmission is a remote possibility.
However, mosquitoes and ticks can spread other diseases such as West Nile Virus and Lyme disease, so Hoosiers should remain vigilant this summer.