Vector Biology

Photo of annopheles gambiae mosquito being injected with hemolymph for malaria study

An Anopheles gambiae mosquito is shown being injected with hemolymph, the insect's primary circulatory fluid, as part of a malaria study.

Credit: NIAID

Arthropod vectors, including insects and ticks, can transmit infectious disease pathogens among humans or between animals and humans. Arthropod vectors are responsible for the spread and transmission of malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever, Zika, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and Lyme disease. According to the World Health Organization, malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, caused an estimated 627,000 deaths in 2020, most of them children under 5 years of age. Other vector-borne diseases such as Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and schistosomiasis affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The burden of these diseases is highest in tropical and subtropical areas, and they disproportionately affect the poorest populations.

NIAID conducts and supports a comprehensive vector biology research program to advance science and identify approaches that will help control or prevent the transmission of vector-borne pathogens to humans. This includes basic research to better understand the biology of arthropod vectors, how they transmit diseases, and how they find and interact with human hosts. The program also supports translational and clinical research to identify and evaluate products and approaches designed to affect vector populations and/or prevent the transmission of pathogens. This includes the development of traps and repellents, the use of biologicals such as Wolbachia bacteria, and the evaluation of novel candidate vaccines based on mosquito saliva.

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