Mosquito borne blood infection
January 11, 2009 1:55 AM   Subscribe

What do you think the probability of catching a blood borne disease would be from swatting a mosquito filled with fresh human blood of unknown origin? Another way of stating the same question: Would the risk associated with driving to the pathology centre to get tests exceed the risk of infection?
posted by singingfish to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: As far as I know, no one's ever caught a blood-borne disease simply by swatting a mosquito. I'd say the odds of it are exceedingly miniscule. (There are other reasons; see this link.

Of course, all sorts of things can happen on the way to, well, anywhere. So the answer to your second question would be yes.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:35 AM on January 11, 2009

Best answer: Most organisms don't survive in mosquito guts. The chemistry/conditions are too different.

There are very specific exceptions (that is, it has to be a particular disease, and a particular insect) where they survive (Chagas, Filaria, Malaria). These are generally "third world diseases", mostly eradicated in the developed world, so you'd have to combine these levels of unluckiness:

1) Mosquito is of the given kind. Most of these are not native to temperate climates, so if you're outside the tropics, they have no business around you
2) Mosquito had contact with someone infected (which is a very low probability where these are not endemic)
3) You managed to drag the blood/feces into your bloodstream.

Also, there aren't "generic find out what I have" tests, all tests are specific for one disease, and the specific ones are mostly antibody-based, which means they have a detection window. Even if you somehow convinced someone to test you, if you had no idea of what you could possibly have, they'd had to run dozens of tests (I'm talking hundreds of dollars, I doubt your insurance would cover these), and for most of these they'd have you wait two more weeks or so to be tested.

You have more risk of being sniped by sand people while trying to find a pathology center that will agree to run tests on you for a mosquito bite.
posted by qvantamon at 2:59 AM on January 11, 2009

Response by poster: I should probably be slightly more specific about this scenario:

You are in a crowded location, and the blood of the mosquito that you swat is clearly visible as fresh human blood, so nearly but not the same as swatting a mosquito that has been feeding on you.
posted by singingfish at 3:15 AM on January 11, 2009

I would forget about it immediately and never think about it again.

I can't imagine much that would be worth the amount of paperwork and headache required to get through a "pathology center."

It's not like you ate the mosquito. And even if you did - meh. You'll live. If any of us were clearly aware of the sheer number of sources of disease around us on a minute-by-minute basis we'd all be dead from the willies alone.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:25 AM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What is your location? Are you somewhere where mosquito-bourne diseases are prevalent? (If so, you are probably already taking malaria medication.)

Do you have an open wound where the blood could have entered your bloodstream?

Even if you say yes, you are probably fine.
posted by typewriter at 5:46 AM on January 11, 2009

So you swat it after it's bit you? Or you notice that it landed on you and you swat it before it bits? Disease certainly can be spread by a mosquito. Really I think we need more info about the hypothetical question here. What's your location? What diseases are endemic in the area? What's your medical history?
posted by Science! at 6:40 AM on January 11, 2009

For clarity's sake, you get malaria from the mosquito, which caught it from an infected person.
posted by Science! at 6:42 AM on January 11, 2009

Best answer: Why mosquitos cannot transmit AIDS.
Why mosquitos cannot transmit hepatitis.
Now forget about it.
posted by roofus at 6:45 AM on January 11, 2009

For clarity's sake, you get malaria from the mosquito, which caught it from an infected person.

But you won't get malaria by swatting a blood-filled malaria-carrying mosquito on your arm -- that's not how mosquito-borne illnesses are transmitted.
posted by Forktine at 8:01 AM on January 11, 2009

I'm still unlcear on whether or not the mosquito bit you before you swatted it. If it didn't, and you're just asking about the blood inside the squished mosquito, there's virtually no risk, unless the mosquito blood happened to drip into an open cut or sore of yours.

If it did bite you before the swatting, yeah, standard risks apply (malaria, etc... depending on the geographical area.)
posted by emd3737 at 8:38 AM on January 11, 2009

I've done that plenty of times and am still alive to tell the tale.
posted by fshgrl at 11:23 AM on January 11, 2009

As emd3737 and others have said, usually, mosquitoes transmit diseases when they bite you. Unless you unluckily swatted the mosquito on an open cut on your arm, I would not think there is much risk. Again, I would ask where this happened, and if it is in a place where mosquito-borne diseases are endemic.

The one that is prevalent in my area is West Nile Virus. WNV is spread by infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, and can then spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite. Because of this, I generally am careful if I swat a mosquito not to get the blood on any breaks in my skin, but unbroken skin *should* be ok. It is usually getting actually bitten by the mosquito that is more worrisome.
posted by gudrun at 12:09 PM on January 11, 2009

Best answer: Never mind the risk of driving to the pathology center. If everyone got tested for disease after an event this commonplace and trivial, human economic activity would collapse due to the expense of all this testing, which would yield no benefit.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:09 PM on January 11, 2009

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