Vector-Borne Diseases

Vectors are living organisms that can transmit infectious diseases between humans or from animals to humans. Many of these are bloodsucking insects that ingest disease-producing microorganisms after biting and sucking blood from an infected host (human or animal) and later inject it into a new host during their next blood meal.

The best-known of the disease vectors are mosquitoes. Other familiar disease vectors include ticks, flies, sandflies, fleas, triatomine bugs and some freshwater aquatic snails.

Vector-borne diseases are human illnesses caused by parasites, viruses and bacteria that are transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and other disease vectors.

Some of the more commonly known vectors and associated vector-borne diseases are:

  • Mosquitos: malaria, West Nile fever, Yellow fever, Zika virus;

  • Ticks: Lyme disease, Rickettsial diseases (Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Q fever), tularemia

  • Fleas: plague, rickettsiosis

Vector-Borne Diseases

Tab/Accordion Items

Who is at risk of exposure to vector-borne diseases?

Employees working in outdoor settings such as, but not limited to, agricultural operations, arboriculture and logging operations, and construction work are most at risk of becoming infected with a vector-borne disease.


What can I do to protect myself and others?

Employees who work outside can protect themselves against mosquito and tick bites, in particular, by following a few simple precautions. Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing one of the following ingredients: DEET; picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US); IR3535; oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE); para-menthane-diol (PMD); and 2-undecanone.

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when working outside. Treat items, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with insect repellant or buy insect repellant-treated clothing and gear.

What resources are available to assist employers?

Training and Outreach Services

The personal protective equipment and hazard communication presentations are available to assist employers in training their staff. Each of these presentations should be modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards. 

In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. 

Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).

Safety and Health Programs

An example hazard communication program and personal protective equipment hazard assessment are available for employers to download and adapt to their specific conditions.

A-Z Safety and Health Topics

More information related to vector-borne diseases can be found on the A-Z topics pages for hazard communicationhurricane assistance and recovery and personal protective equipment (PPE)

Consultation Services

The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.


Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards which are applicable to employee exposure to vector-borne diseases in North Carolina.  Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic. 

General Industry


Maritime, Shipyard Employment

Maritime, Marine Terminals


General Duty Clause

Other Applicable Standards

The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.


Where can I learn more?

Industry Guides

Technical Assistance

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to or by calling 919-707-7876.