is mosquito saliva hypotonic to plasma?

Asked May 31, 2013, 11:11 AM EDT

Is mosquito saliva hyptonic to plasma?

Outside United States integrated pest management human health entomology mosquitoes

7 Responses

I am guessing that you meant to type "hypotonic"? I regret to say I could not find anything in my reference books about the actual level of electrolytes in mosquito saliva as compared to mammalian plasma.

Hm, thanks for your reply, its much appreciated.

Could you tell me if mosquito saliva contains very little salt, similar to human saliva?

Thanks again,



I searched with Google scholar search engine but i found nothing about the salt content of mosquito saliva. The research on the saliva is mainly focused on anticoagulants, vasodilators, and other biologically active components of the saliva.

OK, thanks once again.

The reason I ask is because I'm trying to find out if there is anything in mosquito saliva that 'kills' or 'inhibits' HIV, as some people have made this claim.

Do you have any thoughts on this matter?




I don't know if the mosquito saliva would kill HIV. But I think that the digestion of the blood meal kills HIV so it would never get to the mosquito's saliva in the first place. Mosquito vectored viral diseases are ones that rely on the mosquito being a competent host to the virus. "Competency" means that after ingesting a blood meal from an infected animal, viruses, (ones adapted to using the mosquito as a vector) can enter cells in the mosquito's body and be replicated/amplified. Usually, this happens first in the insect mid-gut cells and eventually ends up in the salivary gland tissue of the mosquito. For diseases like West Nile fever or dengue, a female mosquito of a certain few "vector" species is a necessary component of the disease cycle. HIV has NEVER been shown to be a vectored by mosquitoes, either as an amplifying vector or mechanically (the biological equivalent of a dirty hypodermic needle). HIV lacks the adaptations to survive digestion in the mosquito and amplify in a non-human host.

I will point you towards and excellent explaination from a Professor at Rutgers on why mosquitos have no known role in HIV transmission.

Hey Scott,

Sorry I should have explained a bit more.
I was referring to the saliva mixed with blood as its pumped up into the abdomen of the mosquito. Basically, I'm concerned with the possibility of infection by contamination. ie. a mosquito in your eye. I was wondering if it was at all possible to get HIV in this manner only.

Based on reading, the reason the human mouth is so protected against HIV is because human saliva has a very low salt content, which causes infected cells to burst. As well, apparently human saliva has over a dozens enzymes which inhibit HIV. So unless there's tons of HIV infected blood / semen / breast milk in your mouth, then the mouth is quite protected.
My thinking was, as mosquito's pump saliva into the blood they feed on to prevent coagulation, and if mosquito saliva is similar to human saliva; then even if a mosquito flew into your eye 30 seconds after feeding on an HIV infected individual it would still basically be impossible to get it in this manner as the blood is already mixed with stomach fluid and saliva.

Can you see any reason why a mosquito's saliva might be salty?

I don't think that mosquito saliva would be salty.

I asked 2 friends, who are medical doctors, your question regarding possible HIV infection from a blood fed mosquito getting into your eye. Basically they said the odds of getting infected that way are so miniscule as to be non-existent. The one doctor worked in emergency medicine for 12 years and said you can get a lot worse stuff than a mosquito in your eye and resist infection most of the time.