Diseases from mosquito, tick, flea bites more than tripled from 2004 — CDC

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CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, acknowledged the "growing burden" of these vector-borne illnesses, but he expressed optimism about the ability of state and local health departments, vector control organizations, and industry to help protect the public from these types of threats.

Several factors are likely behind the increase, researchers said.

Nearly everyone has been bitten by a mosquito, tick, or flea.

The authors also noted there were nine vector-borne human diseases that were reported for the first time in the US from 2004 to 2016.

During this time period, nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were either discovered or introduced into the U.S.

Lyle R. Petersen, MD, MPH, an Infectious Disease News Editorial Board member and director of the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, said warmer temperatures allow ticks to move farther north, increasing their range and extending the length of tick season, which places more people at risk for infection.

Other factors, including an increase in global travel and more people living near wildlife, also affect the spread of these diseases, Petersen said.




The most common tick-borne diseases in 2016 were Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis, a serious illness that infects white blood cells. A person who gets bitten by a vector and gets sick has a vector-borne disease, like dengue, Zika, Lyme, or plague.

More than 642,000 cases of the illnesses were reported during the 13 years studied in the Vital Signs report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The diseases they carry vary by region, and those regions are expanding. These diseases are spread as mosquitoes expand into new territory and are brought home by travelers.

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. Puerto Rico experienced four dengue outbreaks, the worst hitting in 2010 and from 2012 to 2013. "We have improvements in vector control, better diagnostics and research, and better methods of treating and preventing human infection".

In a 2017 report from the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, an organization representing 500,000 clinical practitioners aimed at taking action against climate change, Damle shared that over the past five years, his practice has seen a significant rise in tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease and other infections.

In a nutshell, Nate said this: "The CDC data appears to show an increase in the incidence of Lyme from 30,000 to 300,000 a couple years ago and the primary vector (Ixodes scapulars) have increased in their range, mostly moving northward. Like our patients, we are looking for answers, too".

Another 2017 report, entitled The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, also warns that seasonal patterns and warming are expected to not only lead to earlier seasonal tick activity but may also speed up mosquito biting rates, accelerate the mosquito life cycle, and decrease the time needed for an infected mosquito to transmit West Nile Virus.

Educate the public about how to prevent bites and control germs spread by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas in their communities. "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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