Back to Top Skip to main content

Bug-Borne Illnesses

Illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have tripled in the U.S., with more than 640,000 cases reported during the 13 years from 2004 through 2016.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were discovered or introduced into the United States during this time. Bug-borne illness is a significant public health concern, both to the Department of Defense (DoD) and to the broader national and international public health community.

Disease cases from infected mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas have tripled in 13 years. 

The CDC’s report, Vital Signs, is the first summary collectively examining data trends for all nationally notifiable diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea. It provides detailed information on the growing burden of mosquito-borne and tickborne illnesses in the U.S.

“Zika, West Nile, Lyme, and chikungunya—a growing list of diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea—have confronted the U.S. in recent years, making a lot of people sick. And we don’t know what will threaten Americans next,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “Our Nation’s first lines of defense are state and local health departments and vector control organizations, and we must continue to enhance our investment in their ability to fight against these diseases.”

Key CDC Findings

  • A total of 642,602 cases of disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea were reported in the U.S. and its territories from 2004 through 2016.
  • The number of reported tickborne diseases more than doubled in 13 years and accounted for more than 60 percent of all reported mosquito-borne, tickborne, and fleaborne disease cases. Diseases from ticks vary from region to region across the U.S. and those regions are expanding.
  • From 2004 through 2016, seven new germs spread through the bite of an infected tick were discovered or recognized in the U.S. as being able to infect people.
  • Reducing the spread of these diseases and responding to outbreaks effectively will require additional capacity at the state and local level for tracking, diagnosing, and reporting cases; controlling mosquitoes and ticks; and preventing new infections; and for the public and private sector to develop new diagnostic and vector control tools.
Bug-Related Facts
3x. Disease cases from mosquito, tick, and flea bites tripled in the US from 2004 to 2016.
9. Nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks have been discovered or introduced since 2004.
8 in 10. About 80% of vector control organizations lack critical prevention and control capacities.

Mosquito-borne Illnesses

Mosquito-borne illness is a significant public health concern, both to the Department of Defense (DoD) and to the broader national and international public health community. Here, we provide a collection of resources to assist in education and risk communication for partners and stakeholders on issues relating to mosquito control and prevention, as well as the prevention of mosquito-borne infectious disease.

Learn about Prevention of Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Causes for Increased Illnesses

The increase in diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea in the U.S. is likely due to many factors: 

  • Mosquitoes and ticks and the germs they spread are increasing in number and moving into new areas. As a result, more people are at risk for infection. 
  • Overseas travel and commerce are more common than ever before. A traveler can be infected with a mosquito-borne disease, like Zika, in one country, and then unknowingly transport it home. 
  • Finally, new germs spread by mosquito and tick bites have been discovered and the list of nationally notifiable diseases has grown.

“The data show that we’re seeing a steady increase and spread of tickborne diseases, and an accelerating trend of mosquito-borne diseases introduced from other parts of the world,” said Lyle Petersen, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. “We need to support state and local health agencies responsible for detecting and responding to these diseases and controlling the mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas that spread them.”

What Can I Do to Protect Myself?

  • 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.

More information about bug-borne illnesses

Please sign up to get news and alerts via email

You also may be interested in...

AFHSB tracks bugs worldwide to protect service members

Article
7/29/2020
Group of people in forest gathering samples

The GEIS FVBI program supports vector and vector-borne disease surveillance projects in more than 40 countries around the world.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Global Emerging Infections Surveillance | Bug-Borne Illnesses

Navy entomologist conducts vector surveillance throughout Asia

Article
6/25/2020
Soldier crouching down outside looking at the ground

The goal is to help prevent diseases outbreaks in the military population.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch

Tackling mosquitos to protect the force

Article
6/23/2020
Man emptying bag into a helicopter spreader

Mosquitoes transmit a host of woes but not COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Bug-Borne Illnesses | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Army entomologist searches for diseases in Africa

Article
6/22/2020
Soldier wearing gloves testing various substances

An entomologist studies insects and pests in order to monitor their behavior and patterns to prevent diseases among the military population.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch

Fleas Aren't Just Annoying

Video
6/19/2020
DHA Seal

Learn more about how to protect yourself--and your pets--from fleas by watching this video.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses

Don't let ticks get under your skin

Video
6/19/2020
DHA Seal

Don't let ticks get under your skin! Watch this video to learn more.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Tick-Borne Illnesses

Moments in Military Medicine: Yellow Fever

Video
6/19/2020
DHA Seal

Learn about the connection between military medicine and yellow fever in this video

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses

The Deadliest Animal In the World

Video
6/19/2020
DHA Seal

What's the deadliest animal in the world? You need to know. Watch this video to learn more.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

The kissing bug and Chagas disease

Article
8/1/2019
Adult kissing bugs are mostly active in the warmer months, from May to October. Kissing bugs develop into adults after a series of five life stages as nymphs, and both nymphs and adults feed on blood. Kissing bugs feed on humans as well as wild and domestic animals and pets. They can live between one to two years. (Photo by Texas.gov)

Chagas disease comes from a single-celled parasite that lives in the digestive tract of many species of kissing bugs

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Bug-Borne Illnesses

Prevent mosquito-borne illness in the U.S. and overseas

Article
7/31/2019
Most mosquitoes are relatively harmless. But some can cause serious diseases

Mosquitoes can spread dangerous diseases no matter where you are

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Tick Facts: Dangers at the height of tick season

Article
7/31/2019
A tick like this one, seen at 10x magnification, can spread a number of dangerous pathogens during the warm-weather months. (Photo by Cornel Constantin)

Many diseases are transferred to humans by ticks — Lyme is the most common, but several others, described here, are worth knowing about

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Tick-Borne Illnesses | Health Readiness | Preventive Health | Public Health

Avoid bug bites on vacation with these TRICARE tips

Article
7/30/2019
According to the EPA, using the right insect repellent can discourage mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects from landing on you and biting you

If you’re traveling to areas where they may be a higher chance of getting malaria from mosquitoes or tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, take steps to avoid these bugs and others.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses | Tick-Borne Illnesses

Bug Week Fact Sheet Chagas

Fact Sheet
7/16/2019

This fact sheet, from the Armed Services Blood Program, describes how Chagas is transmitted, its signs and symptoms, and how to prevent getting the disease.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Armed Services Blood Program

Bug Week Fact Sheet West Nile

Fact Sheet
7/16/2019

This fact sheet, from the Armed Services Blood Program, describes how West Nile is transmitted, its signs and symptoms, and how to prevent getting the disease.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Armed Services Blood Program | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Bug Week Fact Sheet Malaria

Fact Sheet
7/16/2019

This fact sheet, from the Armed Services Blood Program, describes how Malaria is transmitted, its signs and symptoms, and how to prevent getting the disease.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Armed Services Blood Program | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses
<< < 1 2 3 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 3

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.