Discover Vector-Borne Diseases

The blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, spreads the pathogens that cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus disease.

The Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD) discovers new vector-borne pathogens using traditional laboratory methods and state-of-the art advanced molecular detection methods.

Discover tickborne bacteria

Tick bites can cause serious infections, such as ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever—some are deadly if not treated promptly with antibiotics. Cases of tickborne diseases are on the rise and spreading to new geographic areas. Since 2004, seven new tickborne pathogens have been discovered in people in the United States.

Over a 3-year period, CDC is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Health, Mayo Clinic, the Tennessee Department of Health, and Vanderbilt University to obtain up to 30,000 clinical samples from people who have a suspected tickborne illness. CDC will use Advanced Molecular Detection methods to identify tickborne bacteria that may have caused these patients’ illnesses.

Discover tickborne viruses

Imagine doing routine lab work and making an amazing discovery. That’s what happened to DVBD scientists studying a tick-associated disease. In 2014, when the keen eyes of a DVBD microbiologist noticed something unusual in a sample from a sick person in Kansas, she suspected a new virus. Using classical and state-of-the-art AMD techniques, researchers identified the virus, now named Bourbon virus. To determine if ticks could spread the virus, researchers again used AMD to show that Bourbon virus is likely spread to people by the bite of an infected lone star tick.