Vector-Borne Diseases | Infectious Diseases

Infectious Diseases

Vector-Borne Diseases

The reach of vector-borne diseases is spreading as climates warm. We provide early detection and proven treatments for established and new vector-borne diseases.

Medically reviewed by Dean Blumberg, M.D. on Aug. 25, 2023.

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Keeping You Healthy Now and in the Future

We are committed to providing the latest, most effective care for vector-borne diseases. From timely diagnosis and treatment to our Travelers Clinic, we help you prevent and recover from vector-borne diseases.

Our Difference


Our team has special expertise in infectious diseases, including vector-borne diseases. You receive care from specialists who are on the front lines of improving treatments.

Complete Care

We offer testing, treatment and preventive care for vector-borne diseases. In our Travelers Clinic, we also provide guidance, diagnosis and treatment for international travelers at increased risk of vector-borne disease exposure.


Providers across Northern California refer their patients to our main Infectious Diseases Clinic in Sacramento. As a major referral center, we have extensive experience caring for the full range of vector-borne illnesses.


What Are Vector-Borne Diseases?

The term vector refers to a mosquito, tick or flea that carries and spreads disease. These diseases are called vector-borne diseases. If one of these creatures bites you, you can get infected.

Most Common Vector-Borne Diseases in the U.S.:

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the U.S. Blacklegged ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria spread Lyme disease. A bullseye rash often develops at the site of the tick bite.

West Nile Virus (WNV)

West Nile virus is the most common mosquito disease in the U.S. While West Nile tends to cause flu-like symptoms, only 1 in 5 people get sick when bitten by an infected mosquito.


Anaplasmosis is spread by blacklegged (deer) and western blacklegged ticks. These ticks carry a bacterium called Anaplasma phagocytophilum, which causes the condition.


Dengue is a virus that infected mosquitoes spread to people. Aedes mosquitoes are the type that spreads dengue.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)

Several kinds of ticks — the American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick and brown dog tick — spread this bacterial disease. Rocky Mountain spotted fever advances rapidly, so treatment within the first five days of symptoms is critical.

Zika Virus

The first outbreak of Zika virus in the continental U.S. occurred in 2016. Aedes mosquitoes carry and spread Zika. Symptoms of Zika virus tend to be mild, but it can cause congenital abnormalities (birth defects) during pregnancy.


How to Prevent Vector-Borne Diseases

Vector-borne diseases are preventable. Take these steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Four ways to prevent vector-borne illnesses:

Use Insect Repellant

When outside, apply insect repellant that’s at least 20% DEET, picaridin or IR3535 to exposed skin.

Wear Proper Clothing

Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when mosquitoes are most likely to bite. Wear light-colored clothing outside to spot ticks more easily.

Perform Tick Checks

Check your skin and clothing for ticks after being in areas where they might be. Pay close attention to your hairline, behind your knees, under your arms, in your belly button and around your ears. Remove and save attached ticks for quicker diagnosis if you have symptoms.

Avoid Areas With Vectors

Avoid overgrown grass and brushy areas when possible — ticks like them. Stay in the center of hiking trails. Dump out standing water in your yard — mosquitoes use it to lay their eggs. Standing water can be found in dog bowls, wheel barrels, or anything else (even small items like bottle caps) that can collect water.

Why Early Detection of Vector-Borne Diseases

There are many effective treatments for vector-borne diseases. Early treatment often prevents the most serious, long-lasting symptoms. That’s why you should see your health care provider if you think you have been bitten by an infected insect or tick.

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