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The principal arthropod vectors of disease. What are the risks of travellers’ to be bitten? To be infected?.


Many blood-sucking arthropods are potential vectors of
disease. To become a vector, the arthropod must be susceptible to the infective agent and must survive the incubation period so as to transmit the pathogens to a host. While some arthropod associated diseases affect only man (e.g. malaria) most of these diseases are (anthropo-) zoonoses with man often an accidental host. The risk of contamination depends on the one hand on the biting behaviour of the vector, its biology and distribution, and on the other hand on the sites visited by the traveller, the length of his stay, his activities, the conditions of sleeping accommodation. The risk of contracting malaria is very high in tropical Africa, in the forest area of South America and South East Asia, in Papua New Guinea. Malaria can be prevented if measures (e.g. pyrethroid impregnated bed nets, repellents) are taken to avoid bites of Anopheline mosquitoes between sunset and sunrise, but appropriate chemoprophylaxis must not be neglected. Lethal cases of yellow fever among unvaccinated travellers still occur despite a strict international regulation on vaccination requirements. Dengue is a major health problem in intertropical areas. As no vaccine is available, personal protection measures are recommended against daytime-biting mosquitoes, including the use of protective clothing, repellents. Other arthropod borne diseases among travellers are less common but the risks increase during adventure trips (e.g. zoonotic leishmaniasis, tick-borne relapsing fever) and humanitarian actions (e.g. risk of louse-borne typhus during visits of overcrowded prisons). Tick-borne diseases receive nowadays more attention. These diseases are not only restricted to some occupations (farmers, veterinarians) but also ramblers and campers are at risk. Attached ticks should be removed rapidly and carefully, since several hours of attachment are needed for transmission of spirochetes of
LYME disease.

Bull Soc Pathol Exot. 1998;91(5 Pt 1-2):467-73. English Abstract; Review [1]