World Health Day 2014: Small Bites, Big Threats

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    A mother comforting her son and putting a bandage on his elbow

    It’s getting warmer outside…and warmer weather can bring many things, including mosquitoes, flies, ticks and bugs that may be a threat to your health and to the that of your family.

    The message of this year’s World Health Day? Protect yourself against vector-borne diseases.

    What is a vector-borne disease?

    Every year, more than 1 billion people are infected and more than 1 million die from vector-borne diseases.

    Vector-borne diseases are infectious diseases spread by intermediate organisms, such as insects and snails that transmit viruses, parasites, and bacteria to humans. These diseases cause a high burden of illness and death for individuals, their families, and communities, especially in poorer countries; they lead to school absenteeism, worsening of poverty, a negative impact on the economic productivity, high health costs and overloaded health systems in countries.

    Vector-borne diseases exercising significant impact in the Americas are mainly malaria, dengue, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, and trachoma.

    How can you protect yourself?

    Protect yourself and your environment. Vector-borne diseases can be prevented by:

    • Wearing clothing that acts as a barrier to exposure to bites
    • Using mechanisms to keep vectors out of houses such as screens on doors, windows, and eaves
    • Covering water storage containers
    • Eliminating puddles and drainage of places where water accumulates
    • Eliminating unusable containers where water pools
    • Controlling garbage in yards and gardens

    What about while traveling?

    Vectors such as mosquitoes, sand flies and ticks may be a threat to you when you travel. Find out which diseases they cause and what you can do to protect yourself and your family by printing out a  World Health Day boarding pass prior to travel.

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