K-State research: Mosquitoes cannot spread COVID-19

Kansan Staff
A study at the Kansas State University Biosecurity Research Institute is the first to confirm that SARS-CoV-2 cannot be transmitted to people by mosquitoes. The study has been published by Nature Scientific Reports.

Good news for those who love to be outdoors in nature: A new study by Kansas State University researchers is the first to confirm that SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — cannot be transmitted to people by mosquitoes.

"While the World Health Organization has definitively stated that mosquitoes cannot transmit the virus, our study is the first to provide conclusive data supporting the theory," said Stephen Higgs, Peine professor of biosecurity and university distinguished professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.

Higgs, associate vice president for research and director of the university's Biosecurity Research Institute, along with colleagues from the BRI and the College of Veterinary Medicine, had the findings published July 17 by Nature Scientific Reports.

The article, "SARS-CoV-2 failure to infect or replicate in mosquitoes: an extreme challenge," details the study's findings, which provide the first experimental investigation on the capacity of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, to infect and be transmitted by mosquitoes.

The study, which was done at the BRI ultimately found that the virus is unable to replicate in three common and widely distributed species of mosquitoes — Aedes aegypti, Aedes albopictus and Culex quinquefasciatus — and therefore cannot be transmitted to humans.

Researchers at the BRI have completed four additional studies on COVID-19 since March.

"I am proud of the work we are doing at K-State to learn as much as we can about this and other dangerous pathogens," said Higgs. "This work was possible because of the unique capabilities of the BRI and the dedicated BRI and institutional staff."

Research at the Biosecurity Research Institute has been ongoing with other animal pathogens that can be transmitted from animals to people, including Rift Valley fever and Japanese encephalitis, as well as diseases that could devastate America's food supply, such as African swine fever and classical swine fever.

The research was in part supported by the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility Transition Fund provided by the state of Kansas.