Mosquitoes are a common summer-time foe that are known vectors of the West Nile Virus, Zika, Chikungunya and several other diseases that sicken humans.
As the weather warms and many move their stay-at-home orders to their backyard, the question of whether you can contract COVID-19 through a mosquito bite continues to surface.
Coronavirus outbreak is playing out against a backdrop of already rampant arboviruses like dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and Zika. Global guidelines on tackling COVID-19 fail to take into account local specificities, underplaying especially the social risk factors underlying this “syndemic”. With the health system in particular danger of being overwhelmed, the vital work of community health workers must be protected at all costs.
Dengue fever, Zika, and now COVID-19 are all global health challenges that collectively amplify each other’s impact on public health. Going beyond notions of “comorbidity” or “cross-epidemics“, this “syndemic” is a ticking time bomb.
There are several types of human coronaviruses, including MERS and SARS, which each caused deadly outbreaks of their own. COVID-19, however, has never been seen before, and is caused by SARS-CoV-2. As a whole, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and can affect different species of animals, but rarely can an animal coronavirus infect a human and then spread between people. However, such instances were seen with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, and has also now been documented with COVID-19, which is caused by SARS-CoV-2.
And recently, researchers confirmed that humans spread the virus to tigers at the Bronx Zoo. There have also been reports outside of the U.S. involving pets – particularly cats – becoming infected after close contact with contagious people.
Typically, the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. However, it’s also possible to be spread when an infected person’s droplets are transferred to a surface, and an uninfected person then touches the contaminated surface and then transfers it to their face.
The term syndemic implies a complex web of social and environmental factors that promote and enhance the negative effects of disease interaction. In the case of mosquito-borne diseases in the Americas, the same places where mosquitoes breed are those where COVID-19 will hit the hardest. Poverty, low education levels, high population density, lack of sanitation and sustainable access to water, lack of access to health services, poor housing and waste management, and gender inequalities can all reinforce the social reproduction of disease.
There have been some concerns raised, for example, about the public health interventions demanded by the World Health Organization.