Insect/Vector-Borne Diseases

The bites of mosquitos, ticks, flies and fleas are capable of spreading potentially significant illness to humans.  This transmission occurs when one of these insects bites an infected bird, animal or person; the insect then acquires the disease microbe, which it can later transmit to a new host the next time it bites. In almost every case, the disease microbe must infect and multiply inside the insect host before it can be transmitted to humans, and human-to-human transmission is a very low risk that is almost exclusively confined to health care workers of acutely infected people.

Many of these diseases are fairly well known and understood, while others are emerging, and work to understand and combat them is the subject of on-going research. Increased global commerce, international travel and climate change are all factors that are converging to allow these diseases to migrate from isloated areas and/or tropical regions to the U.S. where common outdoor activities can lead to exposure.

Raising our own awareness and the regular use of preventive action measures are simple steps we all can take to help reduce the risks associated with these diseases. The links at the bottom of the page provide significant additional details and recommendations. Insect bites during pregnancy; working, traveling or living where exposure is likely and such diseases are known to persist; onset of rashes or flu-like symtoms… are all factors where seeking additional guidance and medical attention are recommended.

In Virginia, mosquitoes and ticks are the primary insect vectors of these types of disease:

Mosquitoes: Malaria, West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, Chickungunya, Zika Virus, Bourbon Virus, Encephalitis, and Yellow Fever

Ticks: Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Q-Fever, and Tularaemia

For more information including prevention tips, please visit the following links:

  • Bourbon Virus
  • Chikungunya Virus
  • Dengue Fever
  • Encephalitis
  • Lyme Disease
  • Malaria
  • Q-Fever
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Tularemia
  • West Nile Virus
  • Yellow Fever
  • Zika Virus
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Virginia Department of Health (VDH)
  • American Mosquito Control Association