April 13, 2020

No Evidence Mosquitoes, Ticks Spread COVID-19, Still Can Spread West Nile, Zika

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA), in response to the vast amount of misinformation circulating concerning COVID-19 and the handful of reported cases of animals having the virus, this week released a statement clarifying that at this time, there is no evidence that pests including mosquitoes and tickets can transmit the virus.

“The amount of information people are receiving right now, whether fact or fiction, is enough to make anyone’s head spin,” said Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist for the NPMA. “At this time, there is currently no evidence to suggest that pests like mosquitoes and ticks can be implicated in the transmission of COVID-19. They are, however, able to transmit other serious diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease. With summer right around the corner and people spending more time outdoors than ever before, vigilant pest prevention efforts will be paramount to public safety.”

To help Americans decipher the true threats associated with pests, NPMA is breaking down the most common culprits of disease transmission and how to protect against them.

Mosquitoes are vectors of numerous diseases, including West Nile virus, Zika virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, malaria, yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya and more. Symptoms range from mild to severe and all can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. Mosquitoes are typically found near standing water outdoors, sometimes in something as small as a bottle cap, which can support the development of hundreds of biting mosquitoes. The NPMA encourages weekly inspections around the property and the emptying of any containers of standing water as mosquitoes need only a half inch of water to breed.

Ticks such as the blacklegged tick are able to transmit Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and babesiosis. Other tick species such as the American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick and brown dog tick are able to transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is fatal in 20 percent of cases if not caught early enough. Ticks are most often found in overgrown vegetation at tree lines and foot trails through high grass. The public is encouraged to keep grass cut low, including around fence lines, sheds, trees, shrubs, swing sets and other difficult-to-cut locations.

Rodents like the common house mouse are able to spread Salmonella, while Norway rats and roof rats are also able to transmit plague, typhus, leptospirosis, rat-bite fever, trichinosis and more. Inhaling dust that contains mouse droppings or urine can exacerbate asthma and allergy symptoms as well, especially in children. Homeowners are encouraged to seal all holes larger than a dime and gaps wider than the diameter of a pencil to prevent rodents from getting indoors, as mice can fit through holes the size of a dime and rats the size of a quarter.

For more information on public health pests such as mosquitoes, ticks and rodents, visit PestWorld.org.

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