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Public Health Issues Caused by Pests

Serious, even fatal, diseases can be spread or triggered by pests such as vectors, other insects, rodents, or microbes. EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have collaborated to create an exhaustive list of these pests (the List of Pests of Significant Public Health Importance). Pesticides are sometimes used to help control these pests and reduce their impact on public health.

Examples of significant public health problems caused by pests include:

  • Vector-Borne Diseases - Infectious diseases such as Zika virus, Lyme disease, and rabies can be carried and spread by vectors. Disease vectors include mosquitoes, ticks, and rodents and other animals. EPA registers several pesticide products, including repellents, that may be used to control these vectors or pests:
  • Asthma and Allergies - Indoor household pests such as cockroaches can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms. You can use EPA-registered products to control these pests. EPA also provides information to the public about properly using these products in homes and schools. Read more about: 
  • Microbial Diseases and Infections -  Various microorganisms and acellular particles, including bacteria, viruses, prions and protozoans, cause microbial diseases and infections in people. Many institutions, such as hospitals, health clinics, and food-processing facilities, use EPA-registered antimicrobial pesticides to control these organisms and prevent the spread of diseases. Read more about: