Mosquitoes are a common summer-time foe that are known vectors of the West Nile Virus, Zika, Chikungunya and several other diseases that sicken humans, but what about the novel coronavirus?
As the weather warms and many move their stay-at-home orders to their backyard, the question of whether you can contract COVID-19 through a mosquito bite continues to surface.
There are several types of human coronaviruses, including MERS and SARS, which each caused deadly outbreaks of their own. COVID-19, however, has never been seen before, and is caused by SARS-CoV-2. As a whole, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and can affect different species of animals, but rarely can an animal coronavirus infect a human and then spread between people. However, such instances were seen with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, and has also now been documented with COVID-19, which is caused by SARS-CoV-2.
And recently, researchers confirmed that humans spread the virus to tigers at the Bronx Zoo. There have also been reports outside of the U.S. involving pets – particularly cats – becoming infected after close contact with contagious people.
Typically, the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. However, it’s also possible to be spread when an infected person’s droplets are transferred to a surface, and an uninfected person then touches the contaminated surface and then transfers it to their face.
This raises the question then, of if a mosquito bites an infected person, and then lands on an uninfected person, can the disease be transferred?
“There are no reports of any spread of coronavirus to humans by mosquitoes,” Dr. Mary Schmidt, infectious disease and internal medicine specialist, told Fox News. “If this was a route of transmission, we would have seen it in the Middle East, where the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) caused by the coronavirus has been present for 6 years.”
Schmidt referenced a study that revealed that if mosquitoes were fed a blood meal of the coronavirus MERS, it was detected for up to one day in the insect. However, for this to become a threat to humans, a series of particular events would need to occur.
“In order for this to happen in real life, the mosquitoes would have to acquire the virus during feeding, the virus then undergoes replication in the gut tissue, disseminates to the secondary sites of replication, including the salivary glands, and is ultimately released into the arthropod’s salivary secretions, where it may be inoculated into the skin and cutaneous vasculature of the host (human) during subsequent feeding,” Schmidt said.
Given those findings, Schmidt said that mosquitoes should continue to be monitored. The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) has also said that it will continue to monitor the situation in conjunction with public health officials.
In early March, the World Health Organization (WHO) said there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted by mosquitoes.