Vector-Borne DiseasesCharacterization and epidemiology of arthropod transmitted infections

Launched October 2010 Updated January 2023 27 lectures

Parasitic diseases have been associated with humans and other primates throughout their evolutionary history. In the late nineteenth century, arthropod vectors were first recognized as the vehicle through which people and other warm-blooded animals acquired many of these infections. New vector-borne diseases are still being discovered today. Most major groups... read moreof pathogenic/parasitic organisms (i.e., viruses, bacteria/rickettsia, protozoa and helminthes) have representatives that depend on insects, mites or ticks during part of their development and/or movement from infected to uninfected vertebrate hosts. Parasitic arthropods also inflict direct injury to hosts through their blood and tissue feeding activity. Even some non-parasitic arthropods such as bees, wasps, ants, spiders and scorpions can cause serious human injury from toxins and venoms injected via stings, bites, setae or defensive secretions. Also, anaphylaxis and other severe allergic reactions can result from contact with these and other allergens produced by arthropods.

Despite over 80 years of concerted effort to prevent, control or treat vector-borne infections with quarantine, pesticides, repellents, therapeutic drugs, vaccines, etc. most of these diseases still persist at unacceptable levels, especially in tropical and subtropical regions. Long-term endemic challenges, the introduction of exotic pathogens and vectors into new areas, and epidemic threats precipitated by wars, natural disasters, disruptive agricultural practices and global climate change produce unpredictable patterns of vector-borne disease. These acute and chronic infections often derail other efforts toward sustainable health and economic advancement in poor, underdeveloped countries.

This series of lectures addresses the history, epidemiology, transmission and current research efforts to contain the more serious and widespread vector-borne threats to the health of humans and their domestic animals.

General Background (10 Lectures)