Vector-Borne Diseases (VBD) are a group of diseases caused by several different parasites, viruses and bacteria that are transmitted by vectors including mosquitos or ticks. These vectors ingest the microorganisms from an infected host (human or animal) and later transmit to a new host, which can cause severe illnesses in humans.

Many public health laboratories test for VBDs that are endemic to the US, such as West Nile or Powassan virus, as well as those emerging in the US, such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya.

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. Cases of human illness associated with vector borne disease infections have continued to increase every year and public health laboratories have been integral in 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 VBD of concern within the US including those listed below. Of note, Lyme Disease, a tick-borne disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, is the most common VBD in the US with approximately 30,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year.

  • Colorado Tick Fever Virus (CTF)
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEE)
  • Jamestown Canyon Virus (JCV)
  • LaCrosse Encephalitis Virus (LCV)
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme Disease)
  • St. Louis Encephalitis Virus (SLE)
  • West Nile Virus (WNV)

APHL Resources:

Emerging Vector-Borne Dise​ases

Dengue, chikungunya and Zika virus have become public health concerns in the US as they have migrated to South America and the Caribbean. Though these viruses are predominantly seen in travelers returning to the US, some local transmission of dengue and chikungunya has occurred in the US, and health authorities continue to monitor the status of the Zika virus closely. 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. Many public health laboratories maintain capability to test for one or more of these emerging viruses. For Chikungunya virus protocols visit APHL's Emerging Infectious Disease Protocols (member laboratory access only). ​​

Vector-Borne Diseases Training Resources​

APHL, in collaboration with CDC, have developed training 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.

Users are encouraged to use the training resources as frequently as needed. Training resources will continue to be updated as APHL and CDC continue to create more content specifically directed at vector borne disease laboratory testing. In addition, all the resources are eligible for continuing education credit.

Access the Training Resources

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

Access the APHL Training Portal

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.

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.

MAC-ELISA Training for the Detection of Arboviral Infections at Public Health Laboratories Curriculum includes four main sessions which are available for PACE credits:

  • Session 1: Overview of the CDC MAC-ELISA Assay and Arbovirus Testing in the US (2 hours; 1 PACE credit)

  • Session 2: Overview of the CDC MAC-ELISA Assay Calculations and troubleshooting Strategies (2 hours; 1 PACE credit)

  • Session 3: Discussion of Panel Results and Overview of Arboviral Reagent Production and Distribution (2 hours; 1 PACE credit)

  • Session 4: Overview of the Interpretation and Confirmation of Results and Discussion of Orphan arboviruses in the US (2 hours; 1 PACE credit)

MAC-ELISA Training Lectures

​Some of the lectures within the MAC-ELISA Training include:​

  • ​​Arboviruses in the US: A Diagnostic Perspective

  • Quality Systems in Arbovirus Testing

  • CDC MAC-ELISA: Theory and Practice

  • Sample Handling and walkthrough of the SOP of the CDC MAC-ELISA

  • CDC MAC-ELISA Results and Titrations

  • What Can Possibly Go Wrong? Troubleshooting Strategies

  • Discussion of Practicum Panel Results

  • Arboviral Reagent Production and Distribution

  • Orphan and Emerging Arboviruses in the US

  • Interpretation of the MAC-ELISA and Confirmation of Results