Press Room

Illnesses on the Rise from Mosquito, Tick, and Flea Bites Remain Top Issue for Health Officials

ARLINGTON, VA (May 1, 2018)—Today, CDC released a Vital Signs report on the nation’s increasing risk of vector-borne disease and what can be done to reduce those risks. The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) applauds CDC’s rigorous review of data to shine an evidence-based spotlight on how vector-borne diseases affect humans but is concerned about how states will address these growing disease threats with limited funding.

Key points stressed in the report include:

  • A total of 642,602 cases of vector-borne disease spread by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas were reported from 2004-2016. The number of reported cases of vector-borne disease tripled during this time period.
  • Risks of vector-borne disease appear to be increasing, with nine new vector-borne diseases discovered in the US since 2004. Unfortunately, 84% of vector control programs report needing improvement in one or more of five core vector control competencies.
  • Every state is vulnerable. States and local public health agencies can help mitigate the growing threat of vector-borne disease by building and sustaining public health programs, training vector control staff, and educating the public about how to prevent bites and control vector-borne disease in their communities.

"Today’s report vividly demonstrates that diseases like West Nile Virus, Zika, Lyme, dengue, plague, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and other emerging pathogens carried by mosquitos, ticks, or fleas, increasingly remain a clear and present danger to the public’s health," says John Wiesman, ASTHO president and secretary of health at the Washington State Department of Health. "Community-based vector control services are all-to-often neglected and under resourced."

State, territorial, and local public health departments have a critical role in the nation’s main defense against the increasing threat of these diseases. Demands on public health agencies across the country for services such as vector and disease tracking, laboratory testing, epidemiologic investigation, vector abatement and control, pesticide resistance testing, and public education are also increasing, but funding levels are not keeping pace with these demands.

"Everyone has a role in protecting themselves against mosquito and tick bites and controlling mosquito and ticks in and around their home and property,” says Michael Fraser, executive director of ASTHO. “Government policy and decision makers also have a role in taking the necessary steps to increase our investments in preparedness and response in order for states and territories to have comprehensive and effective vector prevention and control programs."

For more information on vector control, check out these ASTHO resources:


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely-associated states, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.