Vector-Borne Diseases in the United States: Current Trends and Challenges

Vector-Borne Diseases

How do local health departments and other public health organizations work to prevent and control vector-borne diseases in the United States?

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What are Vector-Borne Diseases?

Vector-borne diseases are illnesses caused by microorganisms that are transmitted from a living organism (the ‘vector’) to a human or other animal. Vectors are organisms, such as mosquitoes, flies, and ticks, that come into contact with the microorganisms and then spread them on to humans or passing animals. Vector-borne diseases are among the most common and serious global infections.

Some of the most common vector-borne diseases affecting people in the United States include West Nile virus, Lyme disease, and Zika virus. These diseases can be spread by mosquitoes, ticks, or other tiny insects, so it is important to understand the risk and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your family.

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Vector-Borne Diseases in the US: Current Trends

Vector-borne diseases have been growing more common in the United States in recent years. A nationwide analysis of disease activity, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that vector-borne cases have more than tripled in the past decade, from about 27,000 in 2004 to more than 96,000 in 2016.

The study found that ticks were responsible for the majority of vector-borne cases in the US, with Lyme disease accounting for 82% of all cases. Mosquitoes were responsible for the remaining 18%, with West Nile virus the most common disease.

Unfortunately, the trend of increase in vector-borne diseases shows no sign of slowing down. Climate change and expanding urban areas are contributing to the spread of vector-borne diseases, while increased movements of people across international borders has been linked to the introduction of new and especially dangerous diseases.

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What Are the Challenges of Vector-Borne Diseases?

Vector-borne diseases present a major challenge to public health. They are hard to detect and diagnose and can cause severe and sometimes fatal complications. The challenge is even greater in the US, where healthcare resources are often stretched and access to diagnosis and treatment can be difficult.

In addition, vector-borne diseases in the US often target certain vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, the very young, and those living in poverty. This poses a further challenge for public health professionals who need to tailor prevention and treatment strategies that meet the needs of these populations.

Finally, vector-borne diseases in the US are often spread by mosquitoes and ticks, which can be hard to control. As such, developing effective prevention strategies to reduce the spread of vector-borne diseases remains a major challenge for public health.

How Can We Combat Vector-Borne Diseases?

Combatting vector-borne diseases requires a multidisciplinary approach. The first step is to educate the public on how to reduce the risk of exposure to vectors. This includes wearing insect repellent and long-sleeved clothing when spending time outdoors, and removing standing water from around the home to prevent mosquito breeding.

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In addition, it is important to ensure that the necessary healthcare resources are available to diagnose and treat vector-borne diseases. This includes access to trained healthcare professionals, diagnostic tests, and treatments.

Finally, vector control measures, such as the use of insecticides and other methods of vector control, should be employed to reduce the risk of exposure.


Vector-borne diseases have become increasingly common in the United States in recent years. Unfortunately, these diseases present significant challenges to public health, from diagnosis and treatment to vector control. The best way to combat these diseases is to educate the public on prevention measures and ensure that healthcare resources are available to diagnose and treat vector-borne diseases.