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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Arthropods and the Clinical Laboratory. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

Learn more about Arthropods and the Clinical Laboratory (online CE course)

Medically important arthropods are significant for several reasons:
  • Arboviral disease (arthropod-borne viral infection) is the term describing the transmission to humans from the bite of infected mosquitoes and ticks.
    • Of these viruses (eg., California encephalitis, Chikungunya, dengue, Eastern equine encephalitis, Powassan, St. Louis encephalitis, West Nile, Yellow Fever, and Zika), West Nile virus (WNV) is the most commonly acquired arboviral disease in the United States (US).
    • The number of WNV cases reported each year in the US varies, depending on environmental conditions; over 10,000 cases per year have been reported, with many going unreported. Serious illnesses causing neuroinvasive disease, permanent disabilities, and death may occur.
    • Other viruses cause occasional outbreaks. Dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses are primarily nondomestic viruses typically acquired through travel; however, domestic cases have been on the increase along the southern border.
  • Lyme disease is a bacterial infection. As many as 35,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year.
  • Babesiosis is a parasitic infection.
  • Cases of bedbugs, lice, and scabies outbreaks may be encountered in congregate living conditions and areas of poor sanitation (e.g., homelessness). (These cases may be reported to the local health department for further investigation.)
More than 640,000 cases of illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have occurred in the US from 2004-2016. Arboviral diseases continue to cause serious illness; maintaining surveillance is important to direct prevention activities.1
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Disease cases in the US. Illnesses on the rise from mosquito, tick, and flea bites. Source: CDC Vital Signs, May 2018. Public domain. Accessed June 4, 2022.
2. CDC/ J Gathany. Image# 9875. "This 2007 photograph depicts the pathognomonic erythematous rash in the pattern of a bull’s-eye, referred to as erythema migrans. The rash manifested at the site of a tick bite, on this Maryland woman’s posterior upper arm, signifying a case of Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, and transmitted to humans, by the bite of infected black-legged ticks." PHIL public domain. Created 2007.
3. CDC/ J Pledger. Image#15381. "This photograph depicting the dorsal surface of a human hand focused on the interdigital web space between the index and middle fingers, and revealed the presence of papules due to an infestation of the human itch mite, Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis, otherwise commonly known as scabies." PHIL public domain. Created 1977.

Lyme disease rash. (2)
Scabies papules between fingers. (3)