WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – There is currently no evidence that mosquitoes can transmit COVID-19, says a Purdue University professor.
In the waves of information that surrounded the COVID-19 pandemic, Catherine Hill, A professor of entomology and vector biology said a question that keeps popping up is whether animals, including mosquitoes, can infect humans with the virus. Scientists around the world are currently investigating whether mosquitoes are a risk for transmitting COVID-19. However, so far there is no evidence to support this idea, and for many reasons, mosquitoes are extremely unlikely to be able to transmit the virus.
“It’s early days but we always look at things from a risk management and assessment perspective and I think the risk is very small,” added Hill.
COVID-19 is a member of the coronavirus family, and other viruses in that family, including SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome), are not transmitted by mosquitoes.
“There’s no biological reason to believe another family member is an exception,” Hill said.
Hill has a few messages to help alleviate fears:
- While research into the primary routes of transmission is still ongoing, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is a “respiratory virus” and is primarily transmitted via the “aerosol” route. Sneezing / coughing and touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your face. Although it has been found in small amounts in the blood, there is no evidence that it can be transmitted through a mosquito bite.
- It is true that mosquitoes can transmit some viruses such as dengue and zika, but mosquitoes do not transmit all viruses, for example viruses such as HIV, Ebola, and coronaviruses.
- In order for a mosquito to become infected with SARS-CoV-2, it must feed on the blood of an infected person, acquire the virus that must get into the midgut of the mosquito, infect the salivary glands, replicate, and then feed on one during a second blood meal passed on to another person. This entire 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 can accomplish this feat. Transmission is a remote option.
As summer moves into the northern hemisphere, it is important that people remain vigilant about tick and mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika virus, West Nile virus, and Lyme disease.
“This is one area of concern that these other diseases are not getting enough attention when the bandwidth of everyone is covered with COVID-19,” Hill said.
For those looking for credible, up-to-date information about COVID-19 transmission myths and facts, Hill recommended resources from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With social distancing continuing and people staying closer to their homes and indoors, Hill said it will be possible for vector-borne diseases to decline this year simply because of the precautions for COVID-19 will limit general public exposure.
“However, if you do walk or garden or generally spend time outdoors, try to avoid activities during mosquito bite times (dusk / dawn), avoid tick habitats, wear long pants / shirts, and make sure you have a repellent wear, “said Hill. “It really helps.”
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