Illnesses From Mosquito, Tick, And Flea Bites Increasing In US

Illnesses From Mosquito, Tick, And Flea Bites Increasing In US

Illnesses From Mosquito, Tick, And Flea Bites Increasing In US

The report published Tuesday says there are likely many more cases that go unreported or unrecognized.

More than 640,000 Americans were infected by so-called vector-borne diseases between 2004 and 2016, and nine new diseases, from Bourbon virus to Zika, have shown up, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

A graph showing the rise in reported illnesses from mosquitoes, ticks and fleas in the United States. As a result, more people are at risk for infection. Plus, new vectors, like a tick from Asia that was recently found in New Jersey for the first time, continue to appear and may bring new diseases. And the germs that have been discovered in recent years also add to the number of reported vector-borne diseases in the United States, the CDC said. Only one vaccine is available against yellow fever, a mosquito-borne disease that hasn't been seen in the US but could show up again, according to the CDC report. "For tick-borne disease, increasing temperatures will tend to expand the range of these ticks farther north as well as increasing the length of tick season". "Oversea travel and commerce are more common than ever before". Cases of tick-borne diseases doubled during the study period, from about 22,500 in 2004 to about 48,600 in 2016.

"Many of these diseases are very sensitive to temperature", said Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, who refrained from using the term climate change, even though he described ever-increasing temperatures as the reason mosquitoes and ticks are causing more infections. People also carry these diseases to new places as they travel.

Tick-borne diseases are mainly found in the eastern continental United States and areas along the Pacific coast, the researchers said. West Nile virus major outbreaks in the United States have all happened during heat waves.

Among mosquito-borne viruses, chikungunya and Zika have caused outbreaks in the US for the first time, both being introduced first in Puerto Rico.

Though rare, plague was the most common disease resulting from the bite of an infected flea.

The CDC report mentions the complex impact of the environment on vector-borne disease epidemiology, including the effect of rainfall, temperature and shelter on the "longevity, distribution, biting habits, and propagation of vectors, which ultimately affect the intensity of transmission", but it does not specifically mention rising global temperatures. "Our Nation's first lines of defense are state and local health departments and vector control organizations, and we must continue to enhance our investment in their ability to fight against these diseases".

Agencies can also train vector control staff on core competencies for conducting prevention and control activities.

Commenting on the CDC report, Paul Auwaerter, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, called for more research money for diagnostics, vaccines and treatments for Zika, Lyme disease, and other serious vector-borne diseases. "Like our patients, we are looking for answers, too". Mosquitoes and ticks and the germs they spread are increasing in number and moving into new areas.

Taking steps to control mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas inside and outside your home, including using screens on windows and air conditioning when available. "It's also advisable to apply a repellent such as permethrin to socks, boots, trousers and tents, to further repel ticks".

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