According to the World Health Organization, vector-borne diseases, most of which are preventable, account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases and result in the loss of an estimated 700,000 lives annually around the world. ASM held a Congressional briefing in July 2022 to advocate for strong federal funding for research and public health efforts to better understand how to address these disease threats.

Video Time Stamps
  • "NIH Investigator Initiated Research Project Awards For Over 30 Methods to Reduce Risk For Lyme Disease” (19:17) - Sam R. Telford, III, Sc.D, Professor, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University. 

  • "A Clinical Lab Perspective on Diagnostic Testing For Vector-Borne Diseases” (26:20) -  Elitza Theel, Ph.D., D-ABMM, Director, Infectious Diseases Serology Laboratory and Co-director, Vector-borne Diseases Service Line, Mayo Clinic.  

  • “Advocating for Vector-Borne Disease Protection” (34:29)- Erin Cadwalader, Ph.D., Director of Strategic Initiatives, Entomological Society of America. 

The Rise of Vector-Borne Disease in the U.S.

"More Americans are at risk than ever before as mosquitoes and ticks are moving into new areas of the country, increasing cases and geographic ranges of vector-borne diseases," said Christopher Braden, M.D., the Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Center for Emerging and Infectious Zoonotic Diseases. Since 2005, the number of vector-borne disease cases in the U.S. has doubled, and 10 novel pathogens have been discovered. The last decade has seen the first domestic outbreaks of mosquito-borne chikungunya and Zika viruses, and since 2017, the nonnative Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) has been confirmed in 16 states. 

“Vector-borne diseases are becoming more common with climate change, in part because longer, warmer summers and shorter winters extend the vector transmission season and allow more infections over time,” said Lyle R. Petersen, M.D., M.P.H., the Director of the CDC Division of Vector Borne Diseases. "Even a small change in temperature, even 1 C, will have a major impact on mosquito-borne transmission. When we have heat waves...West Nile (WNV) outbreaks are promoted." The largest single WNV outbreak in the U.S. occurred in Phoenix, Ariz. in 2021, affecting up to 5% of the resident population. A warmer summer also allows ticks, including those carrying bacteria that cause Lyme disease or other pathogens, to migrate farther north.  

Vector Control and Prevention in a Warming Climate

Climate change will necessitate a collaborative vector control and prevention plan. Few prevention methods exist for vectors like Aedes aegypti, a mosquito endemic to parts of the U.S., that may carry the viruses causing Zika, chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever. More work is also needed to improve diagnostic tests to enhance sensitivity and reduce cross-reactivity. CDC is working with collaborating federal entities on a National Strategy authorized by the Kay Hagan Tick Act (named after a N.C. Senator who died from a complicated infection caused by Powassan virus, which is spread by ticks) and expect a report by 2023.  


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