May 27, 2018

CDC: Diseases from mosquitoes, ticks on the rise

02 May 2018, 01:44 | Leigh Flowers

Vector-borne diseases more than triple in US, CDC says

Illnesses from ticks and mosquitoes like Lyme, Zika, and Dengue are hitting 'astronomical levels' — and this may be just the beginning

Only one vaccine is available against yellow fever, a mosquito-borne disease that hasn't been seen in the USA but could show up again, according to the CDC report.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that some 96,075 diseases caused by bites by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas were reported in 2016, up from 27,388 in 2004, in an analysis of data from the CDC's National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. 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 US, the report said.

Mosquito-borne infections are most likely to hit sunnier states and territories.

Other factors leading to the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like Zika include worldwide travel, the CDC said.

Zika was the most common disease borne 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.

Climate change, although not explicitly mentioned in the report, is thought to be a major factor in the spread of vectorborne illnesses, especially Lyme disease, as ticks move northward into areas that were previously too cold for their survival.

The CDC said it is likely that the 640,000 cases of bug-borne illnesses grossly understates the actual number of cases around the US because many other cases are never diagnosed or treated properly. The longevity, distribution, biting habits, and proliferation of the vectors all affect disease transmission, and, according to the report, they're all dependent on environmental factors such as rainfall, temperature, and shelter.

More than 70 percent of state and local pest control programs were OK at applying pesticides, but most fell short in terms of pesticide resistance training, the NACCHO survey found. During that period, a total of more than 640,000 cases of these diseases were reported to the CDC. West Nile virus (WNV) was the most commonly transmitted mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States, according to the report, followed by dengue and Zika virus. "And we don't know what will threaten Americans next", Redfield said.

Further, nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks have been discovered or introduced since 2004, seven of those in ticks alone.

"Many of these diseases are sensitive to temperatures", Dr. Peterson said.

Also, Lyme disease accounted for 82% of tick-borne diseases during this time period, they wrote in "Vital Signs", in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) seconded that conclusion, calling for more federal funding of research into the development of new vaccines to battle these diseases.

"Zika funding helped prepare us for these types of diseases, but more funding is necessary", he said. "It's also advisable to apply a repellent such as permethrin to socks, boots, trousers and tents, to further repel ticks".

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.

"After spending time in wooded areas or in parks, always make sure to inspect yourself and your family for ticks", Glatter continued. "Also check between fingers and toes, bottoms of your feet and your ankles, scalp, behind your ears and under breasts".

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