Mosquito Bites: Everyone is at Risk!
The best way to prevent illnesses from mosquito bites is to protect yourself and your family from bites.
Almost everyone in the world has been bitten by a mosquito. Although most types of mosquitoes are just nuisance mosquitoes, some types of mosquitoes spread viruses that can cause disease. For most viruses spread by mosquitoes, no vaccines or specific medicines are available.
Mosquitoes bite during the day and night, live indoors and outdoors, and search for warm places as temperatures begin to drop. Some mosquitoes hibernate in enclosed spaces, like garages, sheds, and under (or inside) homes, to survive cold temperatures. Except for the southernmost states in North America, mosquito season starts in the summer and continues into fall.
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread viruses like chikungunya, dengue, and Zika.
Culex species mosquitoes spread West Nile virus.
Culex species mosquito larvae live in standing water.
Remove places where mosquitoes lay eggs. Mosquitoes lay eggs in or near water.
When used as directed, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
CDC researcher checks on adult mosquitoes being raised in a laboratory.
CDC researcher looks at a mosquito larva by using a specialized microscope.
Mosquito bites can make you sick
Disease epidemics from viruses spread by mosquitoes are happening more often, including recent dengue outbreaks in many countries worldwide, the Zika epidemic (2015-2017), and the chikungunya epidemic (2013-2014). West Nile virus is the most common virus spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States. In the United States, people can also get sick from less common viruses spread by mosquitoes, like Eastern equine encephalitis or St. Louis encephalitis. From 2004 to 2018, most US cases of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika were reported in US territories.
Protect against mosquito bites
- Use insect repellent: When used as directed, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Use an (EPA)-registered insect repellentexternal icon with one of the following active ingredients:
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
- Cover up: Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Keep mosquitoes outside: Use air conditioning or window and door screens. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
Learn more about mosquito bites and prevention.
Planning a trip?
Make a check list of everything you’ll need for an enjoyable vacation and use the following resources to help you prepare.
- Learn about destination-specific health risks and recommendations by visiting CDC Travelers’ Health website.
- Pack a travel health kit. Remember to pack insect repellent and use it as directed to prevent mosquito bites.
- See a healthcare provider familiar with travel medicine, ideally 4 to 6 weeks before your trip.
- Go to the Find a Clinic webpage for help in finding a travel medicine clinic near you.
Do your homework before you travel
For most viruses spread by mosquitoes, no vaccines or specific medicines are available. However, vaccines are available for viruses like Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever. Travelers to areas with risk of those viruses should get vaccinated.
- Even if you do not feel sick, you should prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks after your trip so you do not spread viruses like dengue, Zika, or chikungunya to uninfected mosquitoes.
- If you have been travelling and have symptoms including fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and rash, see your healthcare provider immediately and be sure to share your travel history.
What can state and local public health agencies do?
- Build and maintain public health programs that test and track diseases and the mosquitoes that spread them.
- Train vector control staff on five core competenciesexternal icon for conducting prevention and control activities.
- Educate the public about how public health agencies prevent and control mosquito-borne diseases in their communities.
What is CDC doing?
- Funds states and territories to detect and respond to infections from mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas and report cases to CDC.
- Partners with local and tribal health departments, industry, universities, and international groups to detect and respond to diseases from mosquitoes.
- Supports five regional centers of excellence to address emerging diseases from mosquitoes and ticks.
- Develops and improves laboratory and diagnostic tests for mosquito-borne diseases.
- Educates the public about protecting themselves from mosquito bites and the viruses they spread.
Remember, everyone can help control mosquitoes. Take action to protect yourself, your family, and your community: use insect repellent, cover up, and keep mosquitoes outside.
For more information about CDC’s work on vector-borne diseases, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/vector
CDC Media Relations
“Mosquito surveillance and control are essential for maintaining healthy and active lifestyles in the United States. It is critical that we maintain control programs across the country as we are always at risk for introductions of mosquito-borne diseases new to the states as well as increases in those that are familiar.”
Roxanne Connelly, PhD, BCE – Medical entomologist, Team Lead, Arboviral Diseases Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases
“We know mosquito-borne diseases are not going away. There will be another outbreak in the United States. How soon, which disease, and how big are unknown. We must be prepared for the unexpected and ready to respond anytime and anywhere.”
Christopher Gregory, MD, MPH – Chief, Arboviral Diseases Branch (ADB), Division of Vector-Borne Diseases
“Vector-borne diseases are on the rise. Disease cases from mosquito, tick, and flea bites more than doubled in the United States from 2004 to 2018.”
“Infected travelers can spread pathogens, like dengue and Zika, across the world in a day. Mosquitoes and ticks move into new areas of the United States, causing more people to be at risk.”
“Local health departments and vector control organizations are the nation’s main defense against this increasing threat. Yet, 84% of local vector control organizations lack 1 or more of 5 core vector control competencies. Better control of mosquitoes and ticks is needed to protect people from these costly and deadly diseases.”
Lyle R. Petersen, MD, MPH – Director, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases