A number of viruses, such as Zika and West Nile, can spread through bites by mosquitoes that carry them. Medical News Today spoke with experts to find if mosquitoes could also carry and transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
Zika, dengue, and West Nile are viruses that spread through bites by infected mosquitoesTrusted Source.
Because a number of viruses can be transmitted through mosquito bites, people may wonder if the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 can also circulate this way. Medical News Today spoke to a variety of experts to find out if mosquitoes can transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And if they do not now, is there potential for them to do so in the future?
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The answer is “no,” according to Dr. Daniel Markowski, technical advisor for the American Mosquito Control Association.
“There is no evidence that mosquitoes can acquire and transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” he told MNT.
In order to understand the mechanisms that prevent mosquitoes from carrying and spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Dr. Markowski explained it is important to understand how mosquitoes transmit virionsTrusted Source, or viral particles.
“Typically, the mosquito must first feed on an infected host, that is circulating enough virus in their blood to have some present in the small amount taken during a mosquito’s blood meal,” he explained.
“Secondly, the virus must survive the insect’s midgut, which has a host of immune responses similar to our own. Not only must they survive inside the mosquito’s midgut, they need to replicate and ultimately bind to receptor sites on the wall of the midgut and pass through that barrier into the mosquito’s body cavity,” Dr. Markowski added.
Once inside the body cavity, Dr. Markowski explained that the virus needs to get past the mosquito’s immune system and make its way into the insect’s salivary glands, all while continuing to replicate. “Now with the next blood meal, they can be passed to a new host while the mosquito feeds,” he continued. “As you can see, it’s a fairly long and complex journey each virus makes to go from one host to the next via a mosquito bite. And not many viruses have evolved over the millennia to successfully complete that journey, which is why many viruses such as flu, coronavirus, and monkeypox are not mosquito-borne viruses.”