Vector-borne diseases are bacterial and viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and other insects. Some of these diseases have been present in the United States for many years, while others have recently emerged.

Current Vector-Borne Disease Weekly Surveillance Report

Mosquito-borne diseases

How to reduce risk of mosquito bites

Peak mosquito biting hours are from dusk to dawn. Ways to prevent mosquito bites include the following:

  • Wear Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below:
    • DEET
    • Permethrin (applied to clothing only, should not be used on skin)
    • Picaridin
    • IR3535
    • or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Products containing up to 30 percent DEET have been shown to be the most effective and are safe for adults, including pregnant women, and children over 2 months of age.
  • Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed (e.g., old tires in the backyard)
  • Change water in birdbaths and pet bowls every three to four days to stop mosquitoes from breeding
  • Turn over items in your yard where rainwater can collect (e.g., kiddie pools)
  • Windows and doors should have tight-fitting screens
  • Make sure roof gutters are clean and in good repair
  • Repair leaky outdoor faucets, air conditioners, and hoses which may increase standing water around your home where mosquitoes can breed 

Tick-borne diseases

Most ticks go through four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult. After hatching from the eggs, ticks must eat blood at every stage to survive. Ticks that require this many hosts can take up to 3 years to complete their full life cycle, and most will die because they don’t find a host for their next feeding.

Preventing tick bites

Ticks are generally found near the ground in brushy or wooded areas.  Ticks cannot jump or fly.  Instead, these insects climb tall grasses or shrubs and wait for a potential host to brush against them.  When this happens, they climb onto the host and seek a place on the skin for attachment.

Tick prevention for wooded or brushy areas:

  • Walk in the center of trails
  • Wear insect repellent containing DEET
  • Wear permethrin-treated clothing
  • Treat dogs for ticks
  • Check for yourself, gear, and pets for ticks after activities in these risky areas
  • Shower as soon as possible after coming inside from outdoors

Tick removal

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure.  Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the tick’s mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin.  If this happens, remove the mouth parts with clean tweezers.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  4. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.