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Military Health System

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Vector-Borne Illnesses

Everyone—in the United States and around the world—is vulnerable to diseases spread by infected insects like mosquitoes, ticks and fleas, also called vectors. Vector-borne diseases are human illnesses caused by parasites, viruses and bacteria that are transmitted by vectors. Increasing global travel and urbanization are contributing to vector-borne disease outbreaks in new regions and countries. 

Some vector-borne diseases, like plague, have been around for thousands of years. Others, like Heartland virus disease and Bourbon virus disease, have been discovered recently. The most common vector-borne disease in the United States is Lyme disease, which is transmitted by blacklegged ticks and is estimated to cause more than 400,000 new cases each year (source: Data and Surveillance | Lyme Disease | CDC)

Vector-Borne Illnesses

This list is not all inclusive. Expand on each vector to see the diseases they transmit.




Triatome (Kissing) bugs

Tsetse flies

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

Did you encounter a tick?

If you're a DOD beneficiary, submit the tick to MilTICK for free identification and testing.

Other protective measures:

  • Use an Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Treat items, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
  • Take steps to control ticks and fleas on pets.
  • Find and remove ticks daily from family and pets.
  • Take steps to control mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas inside and outside your home.

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Prevent Mosquito Bites When Traveling Flyer


If you're planning a trip this summer, follow the tips on this flyer to protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses

Zika Virus Flyer


This flyer describes how to prevent getting the Zika virus through sexual transmission

Mosquito Bite Prevention Flyer


This flyer provides steps you can take to reduce your chance of getting bitten by mosquitoes

Preventing Bug-Borne Illnesses Flyer


Since bugs can carry diseases, this flyer provides tips on how to prevent bug bites this summer

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Last Updated: May 19, 2023
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