Vector-Borne Diseases (VBD) are viruses and bacteria spread by vectors including mosquitoes, ticks and fleas, and they can cause a variety of illnesses in humans. ​​The vectors ingest the microorganisms from an infected host and transmit to a new host through a bite. Many public health laboratories test for VBDs that are endemic (see list below) as well as those emerging or re-emerging in the US.

APHL works with CDC and public health laboratories to promote best practices, develop guidance and hold important laboratory trainings related to the most commonly found vector-borne diseases in the country. Public health laboratories are  integral to performing high quality testing to assess regional disease burden and inform the nation's response to vector-borne diseases.

Endemic Vector-Borne Di​seases

There are several endemic VBDs of public health concern within the US including those listed below. These VBDs are not equally distributed and therefore testing within a particular public health laboratory may only include some of the pathogens. 

  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme Disease)​
  • Colorado Tick Fever Virus (CTFV)
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV)
  • Jamestown Canyon Virus (JCV)
  • LaCrosse Encephalitis Virus (LCV)
  • Powassan Virus
  • St. Louis Encephalitis Virus (SLEV)
  • West Nile Virus (WNV)

APHL Resources

Invasive Vector-Borne Dise​ases

Dengue virus, chikungunya virus and Zika vi​rus have become public health concerns in the US. Though these viruses are predominantly seen in travelers returning to the US, some local tra​nsmission of dengue​ and chikungunya has occurred in the US, and health authorities continue to monitor the status of the Zika virus closely. Many public health laboratories maintain capability to test​ for one or more of these and other invasive​ VBDs. 

  • Dengue: State and local public health laboratories diagnose suspected dengue cases through virus isolation, serological tests or molecular methods. In order to support public hea​lth laboratories, ​CDC and APHL have developed laboratory guidance on diagnostic testing

  • Zika: ​Following the Zika virus response, APHL published a book highlighting the experiences of public health laboratories keeping up with the Zika outbreak and the challenges they faced during the response. 

  • Chikungunya: For Chikungunya virus protocols visit APHL's Emerging Infectious Disease Protocols (member access only). ​​

Vector-Borne Diseases Training and Educational Resources​

APHL, in collaboration with CDC, developed training and educational resources to promote competency, quality and safety in vector-borne disease testing practices. These resources are primarily designed for laboratorians interested in learning more about the several testing methods available for testing for vector-borne diseases.

Upcoming and Archived Webinars

Current Challenges in Chagas Disease Diagnostics (Live Event May 16, 2023)

• ​​​Rickettsial Disease Diagnostics​ (Expires March 21, 2024)

MALDI-TOF analysis of medically important ticks in the US and its application as a public health tool​ (Expires April 22, 2024)

Dengue: A Global Public Health Problem (Expires April 30, 2024) 

Eastern Equine Encephalitis: Finding a EEE positive mosquito in a haystack (Expires November 17, 2023)

Orphan Arboviruses: The Discovery of Rare and Emerging Arboviruses (Expires December 16, 2023)

Sentinel Chicken, an Unlikely Ally in the Fight Against Mosquitoes (Expires January 3, 2024) 

Access eLearning Modules 

The following resources are available in APHL'​s Training Portal (follow​​ instructions below).

To access ​​the APHL Training Portal for the first time:

  1. ​Navigate to the APHL Training Portal.
  2. Select Login, then Create an Account.

Once you have a Training Portal account: 

  1. Navigate to the Catalog  to view all available courses.
  2. Enroll in "MAC-ELISA Training for the Detection of Arboviral Infections at Public Health Laboratories" Curriculum
    1. ​Overview of the CDC MAC-ELISA Assay and Arbovirus Testing in the US (2 hours; 1 PACE credit)
    2. Overview of the CDC MAC-ELISA Assay Calculations and troubleshooting Strategies (2 hours; 1 PACE credit)
    3. Discussion of Panel Results and Overview of Arboviral Reagent Production and Distribution (2 hours; 1 PACE credit)
    4. Overview of the Interpretation and Confirmation of Results and Discussion of Orphan arboviruses in the US (2 hours; 1 PACE credit)
​​​APHL members (all public health laboratory staff) can receive a coupon code for free access. Please contact phl.training@aphl.org to request a coupon code or for more information.