Illnesses from tick, mosquito, flea bites have tripled — CDC

Posted May 03, 2018

Overall, there were 642,602 cases reported, with the number of tick-borne "bacterial and protozoan diseases" rising from 22,000 in 2004 to 48,000 in 2016. Since 2004, at least nine such diseases have been discovered or newly introduced here.

"Well its important to know that these diseases spread by mosquitoes, fleas and ticks are not just summertime nuisances, but they can actually ruin your life", said Dr. Lyle Petersen, CDC Director of Vector-borne Diseases.

Researchers believe the climate shifts will also raise the risks that other mosquito-borne diseases considered largely eliminated as public health threats in the mainland United States could return.

Redfield, MD, said the growing public health problem will only worsen without "major improvement" in how local, state, and federal levels work together to track, report, and control the diseases. The dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses they're known to carry have been only rarely documented in the continental United States, with cases more commonly reported in USA territories like Puerto Rico. But the report points to some changes in the range and distribution of certain vectors that some experts say are likely influenced by climate-related factors.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, CDC officials said the reasons behind the rise are complex and varied.

But the department says 99 percent of all tick-borne diseases reported in Vermont are caused by the black-legged tick. The diseases they carry vary by region, and those regions are expanding. Ticks and mosquitoes can bite at any time of the day, but for mosquitoes carrying dengue, Zika and the Chikungunya virus, the peak biting activity is during daylight hours. In 2016, the year the Zika outbreak occurred, more than 96,000 cases of illnesses were transmitted by these insects. Mosquitoes and ticks and the germs they spread are increasing in number and moving into new areas.

When the weather gets warm and tick season starts, most people worry about Lyme disease.

Mosquito-borne diseases are the best-known vector-borne diseases but other vectors are ticks, flies, fleas, and some freshwater snails. The most common tickborne diseases were Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis/anaplasmosis.

Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases, causing more than 700,000 deaths annually across the globe, according to the World Health Organization.

"We are in the middle of a tick explosion", warned US Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer during a stop at Rockland Lake State Park on Wednesday.

In an interview, Petersen said he was "not under any pressure to say anything or not say anything" about climate change and that he had not been asked to keep mentions of it out of the study.

Tick-borne diseases and mosquito-borne diseases also seem to follow different patterns.

Use insect repellent: When used as directed, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Shirt with long sleeves, long trousers and a hat will protect your skin from insects.

Treat items, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.

Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes and mouth.

However, the CDC says there are steps one can take to stay safe while enjoying the great outdoors.

It doesn't matter where you live; ticks and mosquitoes will find you wherever you live.