Illnesses From Mosquito, Tick, And Flea Bites Increasing In US

02 May, 2018, 01:09 | Author: Wilson Dawson
  • Zika, Lyme Drive Boost In US Bug-Borne Illnesses

West Nile virus was the most common form of mosquito-borne illness, Petersen said, but there has been a recent "accelerating trend" of mosquito-borne disease being introduced to the us, with West Nile in 1999, chikungunya in 2014, and Zika in 2016.

Humans have a hard time controlling creatures like ticks and mosquitoes, and that has made it difficult to stop the spread of many of these diseases, especially the tick-borne ones, which are responsible for the biggest part of the case increase.

Using a national database, researchers analyzed reported cases of 16 different vector-borne diseases (six tick-borne diseases, nine mosquito-borne diseases and one flea-borne disease), from 2004 to 2016. Mosquitoes and ticks and the germs they spread are increasing in number and moving into new areas. Unlike tick-borne diseases, which are not infectious, mosquito-borne diseases are. "With the warm weather and summer travel rapidly approaching, we know that we are vulnerable to these diseases". The actual burden is thought to be "substantially higher", researchers wrote.

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, USA health officials said Tuesday.

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

West Nile virus is the most common infection spread by mosquitoes in the U.S. It was introduced in NY in 1999 and has since spread across the continent, causing annual epidemics, Petersen said.

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

The number of reported tickborne diseases more than doubled in 13 years and accounted for more than 60 percent of all reported mosquito-borne, tickborne, and fleaborne disease cases.

Data have shown that Zika, once thought to be a benign virus, has caused numerous birth defects in the U.S. Zika and West Nile, which has caused epidemics since it was first introduced in the U.S.in 1999, were the most commonly reported mosquito-borne diseases in the continental U.S. These can be vectors for spreading pathogens (germs). The increasing number of transmissions is worrying to some scientists who say those pathogens represent a growing risk to the country.


"The numbers on some of these diseases have gone to astronomical levels", report author Lyle Petersen said, according to The New York Times. "Increasing temperatures will tend to expand the ranges of these ticks further north as well as increasing the length of tick season".

The responsibility for detecting and responding to diseases spread by vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks is nearly all funded locally and operated by local and state health departments.

The only reportable illness spread by flea bites is plague, which is still relatively rare in the United States, causing between three and 17 cases each year during the study period, the report said.

Petersen said that federal programs are increasing funding for those organizations.

"Our nation is better prepared today than we were a year ago", Redfield said.

How can state and local public health agencies help?

For example, recent data from clinical and laboratory diagnoses estimate that Lyme disease infects about 300,000 Americans every year, which is eight to 10 times more than the number reported in the CDC analysis.

"Vector-borne diseases such as Lyme disease and Zika virus disease can devastate patients and their families, causing significant suffering", he told Agence France-Presse. "It will take all of us working together to prevent and control diseases" from these insects, he said.

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