Can mosquitoes and black flies transmit COVID-19?

Published: April 10, 2020 · Updated: May 19, 2020

mosquito on human skin at sunset, mosquitoes Photo by mycteria/Shutterstock

Avoiding other people? That’s within your control. Avoiding mosquitoes and black flies as the weather warms? Not so much. And with still so much unknown about COVID-19, it’s hard not to feel like a bug bite can now carry a much greater threat.

But can mosquitoes and black flies transmit COVID-19? It’s unlikely, and there’s no evidence to suggest the virus can be spread this way, says the World Health Organization. (Pause for exhalation.) “Members of the coronavirus family (SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2) are not transmitted by insects,” says Jason Kindrachuk, an Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in emerging viruses at the University of Manitoba.

There are other viruses, such as Zika virus and yellow fever, that are able to pass the virus to things such as mosquitoes and ticks. After that, the virus “can then be transmitted to people when those insects bite and take a blood meal,” says Kindrachuk.

But coronaviruses are different—they aren’t able to thrive inside of insect cells in the same way. “Viruses have specific requirements for what types of organisms they can both infect and produce more copies of themselves in,” says Kindrachuk. And COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, primarily spread through “droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose,” says the WHO.

So the advice remains the same: wash your hands, don’t touch your face. Mosquitoes and black flies ain’t changing that.

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