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Key facts

  • Vector-borne diseases (VBDs) are caused by bites from living organisms including mosquitoes, fleas and ticks infected with bacteria, viruses or protozoa1
  • VBDs include but are not limited to Chikungunya, Dengue Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Lyme Disease, Malaria, Tick-Borne Encephalitis, Yellow Fever and Zika Virus1
  • VBDs are a major public health concern – more than one million people worldwide die from diseases caused by mosquito bites every year2
  • Precautions to reduce the risk of infections spread by mosquitoes are advised3

Risk areas for mosquito & tick-borne diseases (excluding Lyme Disease)

Adapted from: World Health Organization. Media centre. Factsheets. Vector-borne diseases. February 2016.

What is Chikungunya?4

Chikungunya is caused by bites from infected Aedes species mosquitoes which carry the Chikungunya Virus. The most common symptoms of the virus are fever and joint pain, but other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, rash and joint swelling.

Areas where Chikungunya can be transmitted are Africa, Asia, Europe, the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the Caribbean.

There are currently no antivirals, however precautions to avoid mosquito bites are the best forms of protection and prevention.


What is Dengue Fever?5

Dengue Fever is caused by bites from infected Aedes species mosquitoes which carry the Dengue Virus. The main symptoms of the virus are high fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash and mild bleeding (for example bleeding of the nose or gums, easy bruising).

Areas where dengue fever is endemic are Puerto Rico and in many popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and Latin America.

There is currently no licensed Dengue vaccine on the UK market, therefore precautions to avoid mosquito bites are the best forms of protection and prevention.


What is Lyme Disease?6

Lyme Disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted through the bite of infected ticks.  Symptoms of Lyme Disease include fever, severe headaches, joint pain, nerve pain, numbness, fatigue and loss of short-term memory as well as a skin rash.

Areas where Lyme Disease can be transmitted are northeastern, mid-Atlantic and north-central United States7 and the UK.

Lyme Disease can be treated with antibiotics, however precautions to avoid tick bites are the best forms of protection and prevention.


What is Malaria?8

Malaria is caused by five different species of Plasmodium parasite which is spread by the bites of Anopheles mosquitoes; mainly the females. Typical symptoms are high fever, flu-like symptoms, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea and muscle pain.

Areas where malaria is endemic are Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, parts of the Middle East and some Pacific islands.

Although Malaria can be fatal in some cases, precautions to avoid mosquito bites and taking antimalarial medication are the best forms of protection and prevention.


What is Tick-Borne Encephalitis?9

Tick-Borne Encephalitis is mainly spread in the spring and summer months by ticks which live in forest, woods, grasslands, marshes and shrublands and are infected with the tick-borne encephalitis virus. Symptoms usually consist of flu-like symptoms and headaches but in more severe cases symptoms consist of neck stiffness, drowsiness, poor co-ordination and tremor.

Areas which are affected by Tick-Borne Encephalitis are Austria, Germany, Sweden (southern and central), France (Alsace region), Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Croatia, Albania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, Siberia, Ukraine and northern and eastern regions of China.

Although tick-borne encephalitis can be life threatening, precautions to avoid tick bites and getting vaccinated are the best forms of protection and prevention.


What is Yellow Fever?10

Yellow Fever is a virus which is related to the Japanese Encephalitis virus and is spread by mosquitoes. Symptoms of the virus include a high temperature, headache, nausea or vomiting, muscle pain, including backache and loss of appetite. In more severe cases symptoms include jaundice, kidney failure and bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes or stomach (causing blood in vomit and stools).

Areas where Yellow Fever is endemic is South America, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Caribbean.

Although Yellow Fever can be life threatening, precautions to avoid mosquito bites and getting vaccinated are the best forms of protection and prevention.


What is Zika Virus?11

The Zika Virus is spread by infected Aedes species mosquitoes. Symptoms usually include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain or headache. The Zika Virus has been linked to serious birth defects so it is recommended that pregnant women postpone travel to any region where a known outbreak of the Zika Virus is occurring/has occurred. Detailed guidance and precautions regarding Zika for men and women planning pregnancy is also available from Public Health England.

Areas where Zika has been reported are Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands, South and Central America and the Caribbean.

There are currently no antivirals, however avoiding travel to Zika zones or precautions to avoid mosquito bites are the best forms of protection and prevention.

 

Tick guide diagram V2RGB

How can you prevent Vector-borne diseases?

Vaccination and precautions to avoid mosquito and tick bites are the best forms of protection



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