Vector-Borne Disease Update

While summer brings fun outdoor activities, it also increases the risk of vector-borne diseases.

Since the beginning of June 2023, West Nile virus (WNV), Malaria, Lyme disease, and Babesiosis have been detected in the United States. WNV and Malaria are transmitted through mosquito bites, whereas Lyme disease and Babesiosis are tick-borne diseases commonly found in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. Case totals in the US include WNV (13), Malaria (5) Babesiosis (250). While the cases remain low, vigilance is key.

Symptoms of mosquito-borne illnesses
• Fever
• severe headache
• flu-like illness with associated chills
• muscle aches
• fatigue

Additional symptoms of WNV include nausea, vomiting, backache, and joint pain.

Symptoms of tick-borne illnesses
• severe flu-like symptoms
• chills
• sweats
• intense headache
• muscle and joint pain
• loss of appetite
• fatigue

In some cases, babesiosis causes hemolytic anemia with associating symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, weakness, dark urine and yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Prevention strategies for mosquito-borne illnesses
1. Use DEET insect repellent
Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET or other approved ingredients to exposed skin.

2. Wear loose-fitting clothing
Cover your skin with long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and closed-toe shoes to minimize exposed areas.

3. Get rid of standing water
Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, therefore, eliminating breeding grounds such as flower pots, buckets, pools, or birdbaths will help minimize the risk.

Treat a mosquito bite with soap and water. Apply an ice pack for 10 minutes and reapply as needed to reduce itching and swelling. Use an over-the-counter anti-itch or antihistamine cream or mix baking soda and water to form a paste and apply directly to the mosquito bite to reduce itching.

Prevention strategies for tick-borne illnesses
1. Use DEET insect repellent
Apply and EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET or other approved ingredient. Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Treat boots, clothing, and camping gear with permethrin and your gear will remain protective through several washings.

2. Wear light-colored clothing
Wear light-colored pants and long-sleeved shirts and a hat during outdoor activities.

3. Walk in the center of trails
Avoid wooded and brushy areas with tall grass.

4. Check for travelers
Ticks are known to attach themselves to clothing or pets. Check pets, backpacks, and clothing for ticks.

To remove a tick, use tweezers pulling upward. Don’t twist or jerk the tick which may cause parts of the head and mouth to remain in the skin. Thoroughly clean the site with alcohol, soap, and water. Shower within two hours of coming inside and perform a full body tick check.

To learn more about WNV, Malaria, or other vector-borne diseases, visit: