Emerging Vector-Borne Diseases.
| ID: mdl-27929218
Several mosquito-borne viral infections have recently emerged in North America; West Nile virus is the most common in the United States. Although West Nile virus generally causes a self-limited, flulike febrile illness, a serious neuroinvasive form may occur. Dengue is the most common vector-borne viral disease worldwide, and it has been a significant public health threat in the United States since 2009. Known as breakbone fever for its severe myalgias and arthralgias, dengue may cause a hemorrhagic syndrome. Chikungunya also causes flulike febrile illness and disabling arthralgias. Although meningoencephalitis may occur with chikungunya, bleeding is uncommon. Symptoms of Zika virus infection are similar to those of dengue, but milder. Zika virus increases the risk of fetal brain abnormalities, including microcephaly, if a pregnant woman is infected. Zika virus is spread through Aedes albopictus mosquito bites, is transmitted sexually, and may rarely spread nonsexually from person to person. Diagnosis of these vectorborne infections is clinical and serologic, and treatment is supportive. Other, well-established vector-borne diseases are also important. Ehrlichiosis is a tick-borne bacterial disease that presents as a nonspecific syndrome of fever, headache, malaise, and myalgias. It is diagnosed via blood smear testing, with confirmatory serology. Ehrlichiosis is treated with doxycycline. Rickettsial infections are transmitted by fleas, mites, and ticks, and severity ranges from mild to life threatening. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, the most significant rickettsial infection, is primarily a clinical diagnosis that presents as fever, headache, myalgias, petechial rash, and tick exposure. Doxycycline is effective for rickettsial infections if administered promptly. Vector avoidance strategies are critical to the prevention of all of these infections.