Diseases from ticks, fleas, mosquitoes soar in US

Diseases from ticks, fleas, mosquitoes soar in US

Diseases transmitted by biting insects - ticks and mosquitoes in particular - have more than tripled in the United States over the past decade, a new federal government report shows.

Zika was the most common disease transmitted by ticks, mosquitoes and fleas reported in 2016, with 41,680 cases reported, followed by Lyme disease, with 36,429 cases, nearly double the number in 2004.

"Among the diseases on the list that are caused by indigenous pathogens are Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi); West Nile, dengue and Zika virus diseases; plague (Yersinia pestis); and spotted fever rickettsioses", they wrote.

There are reasons to think the situation could continue getting worse, CDC director Robert Redfield said on a call with reporters Tuesday.

A graph showing the rise in reported illnesses from mosquitoes, ticks and fleas in the United States.

As a group, these diseases in the United States are notable for their wide geographical distribution and resistance to control.

The number of Americans sickened each year by bites from infected mosquitoes, ticks or fleas tripled from 2004 through 2016, with infection rates spiking sharply in 2016 as a result of a Zika outbreak, US health officials said Tuesday.

But the author, Dr. Lyle Petersen, the agency's director of vector-borne diseases, declined to connect the increase to the politically fraught issue of climate change.

"Mosquito-borne diseases are sensitive to how we travel and how we live".

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The number of vector-borne illnesses in the US tripled from 2004 to 2016, rising to almost 650,000 cases.

Although the incidence of vector-borne diseases rose steadily since 2004, 2016 experienced a huge spike in mosquito-borne disease compared to previous years because of the appearance of Zika, with 41,680 cases alone that year. Overall, more than 640,000 cases of these so-called vector-borne diseases were reported during the study period.

Mosquito-borne infections are most likely to hit sunnier states and territories. The diseases they carry vary by region, and those regions are expanding. Mosquitoes and ticks and the germs they spread are increasing in number and moving into new areas.

The nine new threats reported in the US since 2004 include seven new tick-borne pathogens, including the Heartland and Bourbon viruses in the Midwest and a new Borrelia species - B. mayonii - that has caused Lyme disease in the upper Midwest. Additionally, about 80 percent of vector control organizations lack critical prevention and control capacities.

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

"The pace of emergence of new or obscure vector-borne pathogens through introduction or belated recognition appears to be increasing", the report said.

"Zika funding helped prepare us for these types of diseases, but more funding is necessary", he said. In addition, during the study period, researchers identified seven tick-borne diseases that could infect people and that were either newly discovered or newly introduced to the USA, the report said.

Residents can also learn how to prevent bites and control germs spread by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas in their communities, including the use of insect repellent. "It's also advisable to apply a repellent such as permethrin to socks, boots, trousers and tents, to further repel ticks".

Find and remove ticks daily from family and pets. "Make sure to look in warm, hidden places including armpits, nape of the neck, your belly button, pubic areas and behind your knees".

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