K-State Research Team First to Prove COVID-19 Not Transmittable Through Mosquitoes

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Credit: Kansas State University


Researchers at Kansas State University say they have confirmation that SARS-CoV-2 cannot be transmitted to people through mosquitoes and mosquito bites.

Associated vice president for research and director of K-State’s Biosecurity Research Institute, Stephen Higgs worked with other BRI colleagues and the College of Veterinary Medicine to publish their findings. The article, “SARS-CoV-2 failure to infect or replicate in mosquitoes: and extreme challenge,” was published Friday in Nature Scientific Reports.

“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 Higgs. “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.”

The study concluded that the virus could not replicate in the three most common and pervasive species of mosquitos, the Aedes aegypti, Aedes albopictus, and Culex quinquefasciatus through recent studies on infected humans and non-human primates.

The study concluded that neither SARS-CoV nor MERS produce high enough levels of virus to infect mosquitoes enough to transmit to a human.

Both Aedes species have been linked to transmitting Dengue Fever and Yellow Fever. The species can also be carriers of the flavivirus known as the Zika virus, which can produce fetal microcephaly in children of women infected while pregnant. The World Health Organization declared the Zika Virus outbreak or 2015-2016 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The BRI researchers have finished four additional studies on COVID-19 since March. This is the first peer-reviewed publication based on SARS-CoV-2 experiments solely conducted at K-State.

The K-State vice president for research speaks highly of those involved with the study who include Stephen Higgs, Yan-Jang Huang, Dana Vanlandingham, Ashley Bilyeu, Haelea Sharp, and Susan Hettenbach. “We have remarkable talent and capabilities working within our research and training facility at the BRI,” said Peter Dorhout. “The BRI is one of the critical anchor facilities in the North Campus Corridor, which serves as our growing research and development space for the private sector and government agency partnerships with K-State.”

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

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