Vector-borne diseases and ways to prevent them

Vector borne disease

Vectors are organisms that pass on the infection by transmitting pathogens and parasites from one infected person or animal to another. According to the statistics of WHO, Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases, reporting a mortality rate of more than 1 million annually.

Also, WHO estimates that approximately 3.9 billion people in more than 100 countries are at high risk of contracting Dengue fever.

Besides with vector diseases like Malaria, Dengue Fever, Yellow fever ,Chikungunya, Elephantiasis, diseases such as Chagas disease, Leishmaniasis and Schistosomiasis affect millions of people worldwide. However, many of these vector-borne diseases are preventable through proper protective measures.

 What are vector-borne diseases?  

These diseases are caused by vectors. Vectors are common in tropical regions where insects are abundant and where access to safe drinking water and sanitation is difficult.

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 How serious is vector-borne disease?  

Vector-borne diseases are among the most severe and unpredictable diseases. The prevention and control of these diseases are extremely challenging since the organisms are inherent to the environment where they are spreading.

Vector-borne diseases pose a greater threat than diseases transmitted through human contact due to their ability to spread faster and on a larger scale. They transmit diseases from different animals, including mice, rats, monkeys, birds, dogs, etc. to humans and open the door to spreading micro-organisms that cause serious illnesses. The treatment of such diseases is difficult, and the vector must be eliminated for protection.

 Types of vectors

Various types of vectors include,

  • Mosquitoes  
  • Flies  
  • Ticks  
  • Bugs  
  • Snail carrying parasites  

Possible places of presence of disease causing vectors

  • Swimming pools and ponds with stagnant water
  • Places where rainwater stagnates like parks
  • Equipment and places that have been abandoned
  • Toilets or kitchens with open water tanks
  • Water stagnant in flower pots
  • Burrows of rodents and dark places
  • Buildings with stagnant water on their roofs
  • A swimming pool, pond or swamp, especially in an agricultural area
  • Animal husbandry and agricultural sheds  
  • Beds and unhygienic sleeping areas  

 Preventive measures to protect against vectors  

  • Insect vectors and the locations of their larvae can be controlled by spraying appropriate pesticides.  
  • Prevent accumulation of backfilling of ponds and marshes and disposal of waste.
  • Keep your skin and clothes protected with insect repellents, wear long sleeves and cover your legs in insect-infested areas.  
  • Install mesh nets with tiny holes on your windows and doors to prevent insects from coming in.
  • Seal water tanks tightly.  
  • Dispose of old tires, planting basins and unused equipment that could collect water.
  • Close the toilet lid, siphon lid, drainage holes and drains if you are out of the house for a long time.
  • The water in the flower pots should be changed every two days and the pots should be cleaned from the inside.
  • Eliminate stagnant water in the drainage channels above the roof and in the garden. Ensure that the animal pots have fresh water every two days.
  • Travel as little as possible to places where insect-borne diseases are common, and be prepared to receive vaccinations or medicines to prevent the diseases in case of travel, such as Yellow fever or Malaria.
  • It is important to inspect sleeping places like beds, bed linens and mattresses, especially in hotels, to prevent bugs.
  • Make sure that the cleanliness of the barns and the animals is maintained, especially during breeding times.
  • Keep your personal hygiene up and drink or shower with pure water.
  • Do not dispose of human waste near water sources.

 Vector-borne disease groups

 Mosquito-borne diseases  

Mosquitoes are one of the most important insect vectors in humans, infecting many diseases by the transmission of viruses and parasites.  

 How does a mosquito transmit diseases to humans?  

When a mosquito carrying disease-causing viruses, parasites, worms or any micro-organisms bites a person, it transmits them into the human body by injecting the micro-organisms’ saliva into the skin of the person. A person can prevent a disease from spreading by controlling mosquitoes, isolating infected individuals from healthy ones, or giving vaccines to healthy individuals when the risk of infection exists.

  List of main mosquito-borne diseases

  • Malaria
  • Dengue Fever  
  • Yellow fever  
  • Chikungunya disease  
  • Elephantiasis

Diseases that spread through flies

  • Dysentery
  • Diarrhoea
  • Typhoid
  • Cholera
  • Shigellosis
  • Certain helminth infections
  • Eye infections – trachoma and epidemic conjunctivitis

Diseases that spread through ticks

  • Lyme disease
  • Tick-borne meningoencephalitis
  • Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever
  • Tick-borne relapsing fever
  • Q fever
  • Tick-borne spotted fevers
  • Babesiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Tularemia

Diseases that spread through Snail Carrying parasites

  • Angiostrongyliasis
  • Clonorchiasis
  • Fascioliasis
  • Paragonimiasis
  • Schistosomiasis

Diseases transmitted through worms

  • Schistosomiasis – caused by the worm Schistosoma
  • Other worm infections like flukes (by trematodes), tapeworms (by cestodes), and roundworms (by nematodes)

 To sum up

 A major aspect of vector-borne diseases is behavioural change. Educating the people and improving awareness becomes necessary for people to protect themselves and their communities from mosquitoes, ticks, bugs, flies and other such vectors and diseases.

Disease control and elimination depend heavily on access to water and sanitation. Prevention of such vector-borne diseases is possible through a combined work of the society along with government sectors and the guidelines given by them.  


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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