CDC: Illnesses caused by ticks, mosquitoes, fleas have surged

FILE Ñ Aedes aegypti mosquitoes a breed that carries the Zika virus at the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionÕs Lab in San Juan Puerto Rico Feb. 24 2016. The number of people who get diseases transmitted by mosquito tick and flea bites has

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.

The number of Americans sickened by bites from infected mosquitoes, ticks or fleas tripled from 2004 to 2016 - a result of rising global temperatures and increased worldwide travel, U.S. health officials said Tuesday. Since 2004, at least nine such diseases have been newly discovered or introduced into the United States. "And we don't know what will threaten Americans next", Redfield said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says disease transmitted by the insects has more than tripled in the U.S. in recent years. "There is a role for everyone".

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

Currently, the most common tick-borne disease in the United States is Lyme disease.

In 2016, the most common tickborne diseases in the USA were Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis/anaplasmosis.

The findings were published May 1 by the CDC as a Vital Signs report. This includes a doubling of diseases transmitted by ticks, which in turn accounted for 60 percent of all vector-borne diseases, he said.

Mosquitoes are a growing threat, too, causing periodic epidemics of dengue, chikungunya, West Nile, and Zika.

They include two previously unknown, life-threatening tick-borne viruses - Heartland and Bourbon - that were reported from the Midwest, and the chikungunya and Zika viruses transmitted by mosquitoes that were introduced to Puerto Rico in 2014 and 2015. While rare, plague was the most common disease resulting from the bite of an infected flea.

During that period, a total of more than 640,000 cases of these diseases were reported to the CDC.

Peterson declined to say specifically if climate change is behind the alarming numbers. "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".

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

Nathan Nieto, a biologist at Northern Arizona University who studies vector-borne pathogens, is available to discuss the CDC report on the increase in infections submitted by insects.

The researchers noted that these illnesses often go unreported; for instance, a person may have contracted Zika or West Nile virus but have never gone to the doctor.

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.

Officials emphasize the need for state and local governments to build and sustain public health programs that test for and track vector-borne diseases, train vector control staff appropriately, and educate the public on how best to prevent bites and control the spread of germs by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas in their communities. A recent survey of mosquito control agencies found that 84 percent needed help with basics like surveillance and pesticide-resistance testing, Petersen said.

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