Preventing Vector-borne Illnesses

July 2018 Safety Topic

Mother applying insect repellent to daughter's leg during a hike

With warmer weather upon us, we will begin to see more mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. Mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks are known as “vectors.” Vectors are living organisms that can transmit infectious diseases between humans, or from animals to humans. Many vectors are blood-sucking insects; they ingest disease-producing microorganisms during a blood meal from an infected host and later inject it into a new host when they feed. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), disease cases from mosquito, flea, and tick bites tripled in the U.S. from 2004 through 2016.

Vector-borne diseases caused by vectors include the following:

  • Yellow fever
  • Zika
  • Lymphatic filariasis
  • West Nile fever

Bites from ticks can cause the following vector-borne diseases:

  • Lyme disease
  • Relapsing fever (borreliosis)
  • Spotted fever and Q fever

There are some simple precautions you can take to fight the bite. Precautions include practicing the three “R’s”—reduce, repel, and report.

  • Reduce. At home, make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut. Eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
  • Repel. When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent according to label instructions.
  • Report. While at work, report locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week.

For more information or questions about preventing vector-borne illnesses, please speak with your supervisor or contact a member of the Campus Life Safety and Regulatory Compliance team.