Emerging Vector-Borne Diseases: What You Need to Know

Emerging Vector-Borne

How do economic, political, and social factors impact the spread and management of vector-borne diseases?

for Your Health

Vector-borne diseases (VBDs) are illnesses caused by pathogens that are transmitted from one animal to another by a vector (e.g. ticks, mosquitoes, or other arthropods). Some of the most common VBDs include malaria, West Nile virus, dengue fever, Chikungunya fever, and Lyme disease. With relentless globalization, international travel, and the increasing spread of mosquitoes and other arthropods, we’re seeing an ever-increasing number of emerging vector-borne diseases. It is important to be informed about how to protect yourself, your family, and your community from the many potential dangers of these diseases.

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What Causes Vector-Borne Diseases?

VBDs, such as malaria and West Nile virus, are caused by microorganisms, like viruses and parasites, that are transmitted from one animal (usually a mosquito or tick) to another. The pathogen enters the body of the vector and multiplies in its tissues before it is passed on to an animal (e.g. humans) through the vector’s bite or through contact with its feces.

How Can I Protect Myself & My Family from Vector-Borne Diseases?

The simplest and most effective way to prevent the spread of VBDs is to reduce contact with vectors (mosquitoes, ticks, etc.) and minimize your risk of encountering them. You and your family can do this by:

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Using Insect Repellents

Using insect repellents with DEET is an effective way to ward off mosquitoes and ticks.

Covering Up

When outside, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats. Make sure to check your clothing for ticks after coming indoors.

Controlling Mosquitoes Around The Home

Eliminate standing water (mosquitoes need standing water to reproduce) and seal or install screens on all windows and doors.

What Are the Symptoms of Vector-Borne Diseases?

The symptoms of VBDs can vary depending on the specific disease, but in general, the most common symptoms include fever, muscle aches, joint pain, headache, and swollen lymph nodes. In severe cases, VBDs can lead to organ failure and even death. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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How to Treat Vector-Borne Diseases

The treatment for VBDs depends on the specific disease and the severity of the symptoms. Generally, VBDs are treated with a combination of medications, fluids, rest, and supportive care. In some cases, an antiviral medication may be prescribed. In more severe cases, hospitalization and intensive care may be necessary.

VBDs are an ever-present threat, but armed with the right knowledge and precautions, you can reduce your risk and protect yourself, your family, and your community. Make sure you are informed about the potential dangers of these diseases and how to prevent them.