Mosquitoes Can't Spread the Coronavirus

By Ross Pomeroy - RCP Staff
July 20, 2020
Mosquitoes Can't Spread the Coronavirus
(Washtenaw County Health Department via AP)
Mosquitoes Can't Spread the Coronavirus
(Washtenaw County Health Department via AP)
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The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has circled the globe, infecting tens of millions. While the virus almost certainly emerged in bats, it has now found a home in humans. This raised the specter that mosquitoes -- the insect plague of humanity -- might also be able to spread the virus by imbibing the blood of infected individuals and passing on the virus particles they pick up.

Infectious disease experts have widely dismissed the idea, insisting that the virus is not prevalent enough in blood to be sucked up by mosquitoes and transferred to unsuspecting individuals.

Their learned supposition was backed up by a study published last Friday to the journal Scientific Reports.

Researchers from the University of Kansas directly injected three prominent species of mosquitoes with the coronavirus, seeking to find if the virus can replicate inside the insects' guts, then spread to other organs and -- most importantly -- the salivary glands.

"Overcoming the midgut infection and escape barriers is essential for a virus to be transmissible by mosquitoes," the researchers wrote.

The coronavirus didn't even get close to making it that far. 

"No virus was detected in the 277 inoculated mosquitoes collected and titrated at time points beyond 24 hours, suggesting a rapid loss of infectivity and the lack of replication after injection," the researchers found. "Even if a mosquito fed on a person with virus in the blood, the mosquito would not be a vector."

Source: Huang, Y.S., Vanlandingham, D.L., Bilyeu, A.N. et al. SARS-CoV-2 failure to infect or replicate in mosquitoes: an extreme challenge. Sci Rep 10, 11915 (2020).

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