Health Tips

What Viruses Can Mosquitoes Transmit?

what diseases can mosquitos transmit

Swatting mosquitoes is an unfortunate part of nights outside in Minnesota. Nobody wants to be bitten up by a swarm of mosquitoes, not only because those bites itch but because mosquitoes can spread viruses that make you sick.

Using bug spray, wearing light-colored clothing, and other precautions can help you lessen your exposure to mosquitoes.

While avoiding 100% of all mosquitoes while outside may not be possible, working to lessen the number of bites you receive can be crucial in decreasing your risk of being infected with a virus transferred by mosquitoes.

Can mosquitoes transmit COVID-19?

As early as the summer of 2020 studies had been completed that indicated mosquitoes were likely unable to transfer the COVID-19 virus. A common source of proof comes from a June 2020 study where over 1165 mosquitoes were collected in Wuhan, China and all were tested negative for carrying the COVID-19 virus.

What diseases can be carried by mosquitoes?

Luckily, mosquitoes do not carry illnesses as frequently in Minnesota as they do in more tropical climates.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the following diseases can come from Minnesota mosquitoes:

  • West Nile Virus
  • La Crosse Encephalitis (4 to 5 cases per year in Minnesota)
  • Western Equine Encephalitis (no cases since 1999 in Minnesota)

Of these, West Nile Virus is significantly the most common mosquito-transmitted disease in Minnesota since first being reported in 2002. West Nile is most prominent in the late summer, from July through September.

California and Texas lead the nation with the most average annual West Nile cases. Case counts in Minnesota, fortunately, remain relatively low when you consider the number of mosquitoes we each see every summer. The most recent year of data provided by the Minnesota Department of Health showed 63 cases of West Nile were reported in Minnesota in 2018.

West Nile symptoms can appear similar to the flu, including high fever, headache, nausea, joint pain, and overall fatigue. In less than 1% of cases, a significantly more severe case of West Nile encephalitis can develop.

What should I do if mosquitoes are around me all day at work?

If your worksite has any standing water, in buckets, barrels, etc, dump out this water to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in these waters. Getting ahead of this early can greatly reduce the number of mosquitoes in an area.

Additionally, wear bug spray, but if you are also wearing sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first. Cover your hands, legs, and arms if the temperature outside allows for you to do so comfortably.