HHS Releases New Strategy to Deal With Vector-Borne Diseases in the U.S.

Feb. 6, 2024
Vectors, or biting insects and arachnids, are spreading more and more disease in the U.S. over time

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released the National Public Health Strategy to Prevent and Control Vector-Borne Diseases in People (VBD National Strategy).

HHS led a “four-year process with civilian agencies and defense departments to deliver this strategy,” which aims to “identify and describe federal priorities to detect, prevent, respond to, and control diseases and conditions caused by vectors in the United States.”

Vectors are “biting insects and arachnids like mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and lice” that can “spread germs that make people sick.” The threat has become increasingly pronounced in the United States in recent times, as reported cases of these diseases doubled over the last two decades, according to CDC. Drivers behind this increase include “shifting land use patterns, global travel and trade, and a changing climate.” Diseases and conditions spread by vectors include “Lyme disease, Zika virus, West Nile virus, dengue, malaria, plague, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and alpha-gal syndrome.”

The VBD National Strategy aims to “address the significant public health challenges related to vector-borne diseases,” “incorporate a One Health approach to enhance coordination and communication across human, animal, and environmental areas,” and “reverse the upward trends” in vector-borne diseases. To that effect, the strategy “lays out an ambitious national public health approach to develop diagnostics, drugs, and treatments for coexisting conditions” in concord with the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group and recommendations from the “now sunset” Working Group.

The strategy aims to “better understand when, where, and how people are exposed to [vector-borne diseases] and get sick or die,” using that information to develop tools, methods, and guidance to diagnose diseases and prevent and control them. It also aims to develop and assess “drugs and treatment strategies” and “disseminate and implement public health tools, programs, and collaborations to prevent, detect, diagnose, and respond to threats.”

HHS’s website has the news release.