Do Gnats Carry Zika? Here's What You Need to Know

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Dec 16 2016 - 10:47am

Did you know that mosquitoes and horse flies aren't the only flying insects that try to suck your blood? Those very small bugs you can barely see – gnats – can also bite and suck your blood. But do they have Zika?

Gnats and Zika

The news is still bustling about Zika. It's finally made its way to the middle of the U.S.. In particular, it's hitting one Texas town so hard that the CDC wants to ban pregnant women from visiting Brownsville, which is close to the Mexican border.

So far there's been five confirmed cases of people contracting the Zika virus in Brownsville. It turns out that mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus can still breed in the town's warm temperatures. If you're not pregnant, getting infected with Zika causes only mild symptoms, which at worst is a fever and at least is a small rash and muscle aches. But if you're pregnant, a Zika infection can harm your baby and cause life-threatening microcephaly.

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But mosquitoes aren't the only flying bugs that bite! You've heard jokes about gnats being the smallest insects or something like that – people always compare them to tiny things. But did you know gnats bite and suck your blood too? In fact, one gnat bite actually lets more blood out than one mosquito bite! It can also be more painful than a mosquito bite.

Gnats are even more common than mosquitoes because they start becoming active in the spring, whereas mosquito activity usually doesn't peak until the summer. It's understandable that they could pose a potential bigger threat than mosquitoes if they carry the Zika virus.

But thankfully, researchers say that gnats don't transmit any diseases to humans in the U.S., but can transmit troublesome diseases for livestock. Gnats are zika-free! But don't let your guard down if you're traveling or living outside the U.S. – researchers did find that gnats can transmit parasitic worms through their bite, but only mostly in Africa, South America, and Central America.

Bottom line: If you're pregnant, stay away from Brownsville, TX until it gets a bit more chilly down there. Also, you don't have to worry about gnats carrying Zika.

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