Flies, roaches not likely to spread COVID-19, study shows: Research answers public health concerns about virus transmission

Insects like biting flies and cockroaches are not likely to spread the agent of COVID-19 to humans, according to a recently published article by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists.

Chris Roundy, Ph.D., a post-doctoral student in the Department of Entomology at the time of the study, removes flies from a sticky trap. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Gabe Hamer)

Public health experts and officials know much more about the spread of COVID-19, but concerns remained about how the virus spreads indirectly from human to human through contaminated surfaces, animals or insects.

Insects are known to spread many infectious diseases among humans, so evaluating the role of insects in the potential transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was a high priority in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to study co-author Gabriel Hamer, Ph.D., AgriLife Research entomologist in the Texas A&M Department of Entomology.

The published article, “No Evidence of SARS-CoV-2 Among Flies or Cockroaches in Households Where COVID-19 Positive Cases Resided” in the Journal of Medical Entomology covers the project and the team’s finding.

The team included Gabriel Hamer, Sarah Hamer, Ph.D., DVM, associate professor of epidemiology at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, along with the help of research associates and graduate students and other faculty in the Department of Entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and School of Public Health. The lead author, Chris Roundy, Ph.D., was a post-doctoral student in the Department of Entomology at the time and is now working in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

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