As COVID-19 continues to spread across the nation, some people have wondered if the virus can be transmitted via mosquitoes. With current information on the virus, multiple experts and organizations stated there is no evidence mosquitoes can spread COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites, according to the World Health Organization website. The virus spreads through droplets that are made when an infected person coughs or sneezes or can be found in droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.
Ronald Warner, epidemiologist and professor emeritus at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, said there are different reasons why COVID-19 is not mosquito-transmitted.
“The first most obvious proof of that is that the full outbreak began and continues in the absence of any mosquitoes,” he said.
There also is no evidence that several other coronaviruses in humans and several species of animals can be mosquito-transmitted viruses, Warner said.
“It’s just not a family of viruses that been adapted to mosquito transmission,” he said.
Corey Brelsfoard, assistant professor in the Tech Department of Biological Sciences, said there are other reasons COVID-19 would not be mosquito-transmitted.
“There are only particular viruses that are vector- borne arthropods or insects,” he said. “They actually have their own name called arboviruses.”
“The reason they’re only vectored by insects is because the viruses have to complete part of the lifecycle typically within the insect,” he said. “So, they have to enter the insect via bloodmeal or feeding on a plant tissue for example. They have to make their way to the gut of the insect to, typically, make their way to the body of the insect back to the head where they’re passed on via another bloodmeal like a mosquito would.”
The virus must be able to replicate and complete a part of the lifecycle within the insect, Brelsfoard said. Not all viruses can do that, which is why COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through mosquitos.
“The insect has an immune system that also attacks viruses or it probably doesn’t pick up enough of the virus particles to be passed on via a bloodmeal,” he said.
Regarding mosquito-transmitted viruses, Warner said the main two people in West Texas may need to worry about are West Nile virus and Saint Louis encephalitis. It is very rare the Zika virus will be prominent in the area.
Despite these types of viruses, Warner said mosquitoes will not start to become a problem until late spring or early summer.
“You’ve got to have several consecutive days and nights when the temperature is probably above at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit,” he said. “We haven’t quite gotten their yet. Our evenings are still pretty cool.”
For those wanting to repel mosquitoes, regardless of the lack of evidence toward COVID-19 transmission, Warner said one needs to follow rules known as the four D’s. These rules consist of remembering that mosquitoes are more active during dusk and dawn hours, dressing in clothing that covers the arms and legs, using deet or any insect repellent and draining small pools of water around one’s home.