Coronavirus and Pests
There are actually several different types of coronaviruses. The first coronaviruses were discovered in the 1960’s as the cause behind common strains of flu. Within the umbrella of coronaviruses, there are four primary subgroups: 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1. People around the world are commonly infected by these four types of the virus, but there are other coronaviruses that are (or were) less common and cause far more serious conditions than the aforementioned subgroups. These coronaviruses include MERS-CoV (causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, MERS), SARS-CoV (causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS), and the newly infamous SARS-CoV-2 (the monstrous virus behind COVID-19).
“Why the two names?” you might be wondering. Well, the answer is rather simple actually. COVID-19 stands for ‘corona-virus-disease-2019.’ This is the identifying name of the disease itself, whereas SARS-CoV-2 is the abbreviated name for the virus that causes the disease. This name in long form is the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2. But no matter if you prefer the proper title of the virus or the disease, our world has been turned on its head by this latest pandemic and it is important to know if vector pests put you and your family at more risk of transmitting this global affliction.
Vector pests are any pests that carry and transmit diseases. The most common include mice, rats, cockroaches, fleas, ticks, and, most notoriously, mosquitos. As vector pests like mosquitos have been responsible for spreading disease that causes hundreds of thousands of deaths per year, their potential roles regarding COVID-19 are a current concern.
According to the World Health Organization however, there have luckily been no cases reported, nor evidence of any kind that suggests that COVID-19 can be transmitted through the bites of mosquitos. The chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association, Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., has also gone on the record confirming that “there is currently no evidence to suggest that pests like mosquitoes and ticks can be implicated in the transmission of COVID-19.”
Regarding rodent vector pests, the CDC has stated that, “at this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19, [and] the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.” In fact, data from recent SARS-COV-2 tests found that mice (along with a few other animals including chickens, ducks, and pigs) did not appear to ever contract or transmit the infection, which is a very encouraging result in our current climate.
Pest Control for Protection
We are, regrettably, in the midst of a pandemic and, as such, it is extra important to safeguard your immune system in every way possible. So while it seems that vector pests thankfully cannot contract or transmit COVID-19, they still carry various, serious diseases. Mosquitos can transmit Malaria, Yellow Fever, Zika virus, and West Nile virus; rodents carry Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome, Lassa Fever, Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis, and Salmonellosis; ticks pass Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever; and fleas can pass Typhus, the Pneumonic plague, and the Bubonic plague. Contracting COVID-19 while your immune system is already compromised by another disease increases your chances of having a severe case of the virus. As such, keeping potential vector pest infestations at bay is vital in order to best protect yourself and your family.
Stay safe! Stay healthy! Stay pest-free!
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Advice for the Public (2020) The World Health Organization (WHO). Available at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters (Accessed: September 2020).
COVID-19 and Animals (2020) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html (Accessed: September 2020).
Do Mosquitoes and Ticks Transmit COVID-19? (2020) Pest World. The National Pest Management Association. Available at: https://www.pestworld.org/news-hub/press-releases/do-mosquitoes-and-ticks-transmit-covid-19-experts-say-no/ (Accessed: September 2020).
Fleas (1997) WHO. The Department of Vector Control. Available at: https://www.who.int/docstore/water_sanitation_health/vectcontrol/ch24.htm (Accessed: September 2020).
Human Coronavirus Types (2020) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/types.html (Accessed: September 2020).
Naming the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and the Virus that Causes It (2020) The World Health Organization (WHO). Available at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance/naming-the-coronavirus-disease-(covid-2019)-and-the-virus-that-causes-it (Accessed: September 2020).
Parada, J. Ph.D. (2020) Is Coronavirus Transmitted by Pests?, Pest World. The National Pest Management Association. Available at: https://www.pestworld.org/news-hub/pest-health-hub/is-coronavirus-transmitted-by-pests/ (Accessed: September 2020).