Editor’s note: Dr. Cope has written the following in the hopes of arming pest management professionals with correct and vital information to help answer questions and concerns about the new coronavirus from their customers.
The Novel Coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, was first identified in Wuhan, China and has since spread rapidly, killing hundreds and sickening thousands. This virus is newly identified and is not the same as the coronaviruses that circulate among humans and cause mild disease, such as the common cold. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause illness in humans while others circulate among animals such as cattle, cats, camels and bats. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a coronavirus that emerged to infect people, came from civet cats while another coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), infected people from camels.
Although 2019-nCoV likely came from an animal, it now appears to be spreading person-to-person. There is no evidence whatsoever that any coronavirus is spread by mosquito bite. But what, exactly, is “person-to-person” transmission? This occurs mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and common colds are spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or may even be inhaled into the lungs. Usually this happens within about 6 feet. Also, note that some viruses are highly contagious (such as measles) while others are less so. We still have much to learn about just how contagious 2019-nCoV is as well as many other aspects of its epidemiology.
Now, if a mosquito bites a person who has West Nile virus in the bloodstream, that mosquito may then be able to transmit the virus to another person in about 10 days or so. However, this is not considered “person-to-person” transmission. In this case, the virus is “vector borne,” meaning transmitted by a biting arthropod such as a mosquito or tick.
Here are just a few other things to know about 2019-nCoV:
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory viruses.
- Coronaviruses are poor survivors on exposed surfaces. Therefore, there is likely a very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.
- There is no reason to think that any animals or pets in the United States might be a source of infection for 2019-nCoV.
- There is currently no vaccine for 2019-nCoV and no specific antiviral treatment.
- One of the most effective preventive measures is to wash your hands often, with soap, for at least 20 seconds especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
Read more COVID-19 coverage here: MyPMP.net/COVID-19
Author’s note: This information was adapted primarily the official website of the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. The 2019-nCoV situation is changing daily so please consult the CDC for updates.
Dr. Cope is VP, Technical Products and Services, AP&G (Catchmaster). He is the former director of the American Mosquito Control Association and he holds a Ph.D. in Public Health, with emphasis in Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases.
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