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Notable Disease Vectors

Last updated over 3 years ago

Approximately 75% of recently emerging infectious diseases affecting humans are diseases of animal origin; approximately 60% of all human pathogens are zoonotic (transferred between humans and animals.) This collection explores some of the most common and dangerous.

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    Xenopsylla cheopis

    Oriental Rat Flea

    Xenopsylla cheopis is the species of flea that carries Yersinia pestis - the bacterium that causes bubonic plague, and is thought to have been responsible for the Black Death. (Source: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/species-of-the-day/scientific-advances/disease/xenopsylla-cheopis/index.html)

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    Triatominae

    Kissing Bugs

    Triatomines are large insects with nocturnal habits. They are typically found in structures with thatched roofs that offer hiding places during the daytime. They are called “kissing bugs” due to their predilection for feeding on the soft skin of people’s faces, including lips. Vectors of Chagas disease. (Source: http://www.mosquitozone.com/page8/assets/Vector%20Borne%20Disease%20Lo-Res.pdf)

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    Sus scrofa domesticus

    Domestic Pig

    Domestic pigs and wild birds infected with the Japanese encephalitis virus can transfer the disease through mosquitoes. Infected mosquitoes then transmit the Japanese encephalitis virus to humans and animals during the feeding process. The Japanese encephalitis virus is amplified in the blood systems of domestic pigs and wild birds. (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/jencephalitis/qa.htm)

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    Simuliidae

    Black Flies

    Black flies are yet another relative of mosquitoes that are specialized for breeding in running water from small trickles to large rivers. Unlike mosquitoes, black flies feed by slashing through the skin, and they never feed indoors. They can attack in such large numbers that their salivary fluids alone can cause a person to become ill, causing a condition called “black fly fever.” They also vector a nematode that can live in the human body for up to fifteen years destroying tissue in internal organs, most notably in the eye thereby causing blindness. (Source: http://www.mosquitozone.com/page8/assets/Vector%20Borne%20Disease%20Lo-Res.pdf)

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    Pulex irritans

    Human Flea

    Pulex irritans serves as a vector for various pathogens including plague-causing bacteria (Yersinia pestis), bacteria causing murine typhus (Rickettsia typhi), bacteria causing feline spotted-fever (Rickettsia felis), protozoa (Nosema pulicis), parasitic nematodes (Steinernema carpocapsae), and pteromalid wasps (Bairamlia fuscipes). (Source: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pulex_irritans.html)

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    Phlebotomus

    Phlebotomine Sandfly

    Closely related to mosquitoes, sand flies are blood-feeders and breed in caves, rodent burrows, manure piles and other dark places that retain humidity and are rich in organic matter.They are weak fliers, tending to move from host to host in short “hopping” flights. They can cary Leishmaniasis and Sand Fly Fever. (http://www.mosquitozone.com/page8/assets/Vector%20Borne%20Disease%20Lo-Res.pdf)

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    Ixodes

    Ticks in general have a much longer life cycle than a mosquito. Hard ticks feed only a few times during their lifespan, which tends to limit their odds of acquiring an infection. Nevertheless, the longevity and host selectivity of hard ticks allows them to be relatively efficient vectors. Soft ticks are long-lived nest and burrow dwellers. Like mosquitoes they can feed many times during their lifespan. Can cary Ticks in general have a much longer life cycle than a mosquito. Hard ticks feed only a few times during their lifespan, which tends to limit their odds of acquiring an infection. Nevertheless, the longevity and host selectivity of hard ticks allows them to be relatively efficient vectors. Soft ticks are long-lived nest and burrow dwellers. Like mosquitoes they can feed many times during their lifespan. (Source:"http://www.mosquitozone.com/page8/assets/Vector%20Borne%20Disease%20Lo-Res.pdf)

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    Glossina

    Tsetse Flies

    Tsetse flies (genus Glossina) are relatively large, bloodsucking flies which are easily recognizable. Their reproduction requires a habitat of moist soil, where they produce one pupa at a time, which wriggles itself into the soil. The species transmitting gambian sleeping sickness live in the riverine forest zones and human-vector contact is associated with human water needs and uses. (Source:http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/resources/slidesb.pdf)

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    Culicidae

    Mosquitos

    Mosquitoes, by far the most important of the disease vectors, number over 3,000 species worldwide. They can transmit Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, West Nile virus, Rift Valley Fever, Chikungunya, Japanese Encephalitis, Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, Murray Valley Encephalitis. (Source: http://www.mosquitozone.com/page8/assets/Vector%20Borne%20Disease%20Lo-Res.pdf)

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    Cimex lectularius

    Bed Bug

    Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html)

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    Canis lupus familiaris

    Domestic Dog

    Canine vector-borne diseases (CVBDs) constitute an important group of illnesses affecting dogs around the world. These diseases are caused by a diverse range of pathogens, which are transmitted to dogs by different arthropod vectors, including ticks, fleas, lice, triatomines, mosquitoes, tabanids, and phlebotomine sand flies.(Source: http://www.parasitesandvectors.com/content/1/1/25)

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    Anopheles

    Marsh Mosquitoes

    Malaria is transmitted among humans by female mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. Female mosquitoes take blood meals to carry out egg production, and such blood meals are the link between the human and the mosquito hosts in the parasite life cycle. (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/biology/mosquitoes/index.html)

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    Aedes albopictus

    Asian Tiger Mosquito

    Aedes albopictus is a maintenance (occasionally epidemic) vector of dengue viruses in parts of Asia and is a competent vector of several other viruses under experimental conditions. (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/arbor/albopic_new.htm)

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    Aedes aegypti

    Yellow Fever Mosquito

    Aedes aegypti is historically the primary vector for the viruses that cause human dengue and yellow fever. Subtropical and tropical zones of the Americas are still endemic for these diseases. In Asia, this species is also considered the principal vector of chikungunya virus. (Source: http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~insects/sp5.htm)