Table of Contents
We the People Vector
A we the people vector is a bloodsucking insect that transmits an infectious pathogen between humans, animals and plants. These include mosquitoes, ticks and other insects that can cause disease in humans such as West Nile fever and Japanese encephalitis. The WHO works with partners on improving water supply, sanitation and community mobilisation to reduce the burden of vector-borne diseases.
The vector bug concept – definition and examples
It is commonly understood that mosquitoes, ticks and other bloodsucking insects are a major contributor to human illness. They are important vectors of many viral and bacterial diseases, including dengue fever, yellow fever and Zika virus. The WHO works with partners to develop new tools, technologies and approaches for surveillance, prevention and control of these emerging infections.
The vector of choice – the most relevant for understanding parasite and pathogen evolution
A key feature of mosquitoes is their ability to spread viruses, bacteria and fungi, often to an extent that exceeds the capacity of host-directed immune responses. This is particularly the case for a number of pathogens that are adapted to live outside the host gastrointestinal tract, such as dengue fever and Zika virus.
The smallest and most interesting aspect of the mosquito is that they can ingest and transmit a pathogen from one host to another by biting and sucking the fluids out of the effected host. This is a relatively novel biological process, akin to micropredation by birds, and a useful tool for studying microbial interactions on an individual level (definition #7).
Defining a’vector’ requires a clear and relevant definition of what a vector is, what they do and why we consider them to be a vector in the first place. This definition is likely to be different for each study, depending on the purpose of the investigation, and should be based on an ecological and/or evolutionary perspective.
The biggest challenge in defining a’vector’ is that a lot of’vector’ research has focussed on the simplest and most obvious aspects of their behaviour, such as ingesting and transmitting a pathogen via a bite/blood meal. This may be because these are the most familiar aspects of their life cycle to most researchers, or it may be that they are simply more convenient for describing and analyzing the behavior of the organisms involved in transmission.