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Diseases from mosquitoes, ticks on the rise — CDC

02 May 2018

The CDC report also focuses on steps to help prevent illnesses spread by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas - so-called vector-borne diseases.

Illnesses from mosquito, tick and flea bites are on the rise in the United States, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Better control of mosquitoes and ticks is needed to protect people from these costly and deadly diseases. Tick-transmitted diseases are more likely to affect Northeastern states.

Ticks, which transmit most of the diseases spread by organisms, are gaining ground in the United States. Diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika viruses, were nearly exclusively transmitted in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The 16 vector-borne illnesses that state health departments are required to report include nine mosquito-borne diseases - West Nile, dengue, chikungunya and Zika among them - and six tick-borne diseases, including Lyme, which is by far the most prevalent vector-borne disease in the country, with more than 402,000 cases reported over the study period.

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

For example, Aedes aegypti - the mosquito most responsible for transmitting Zika - has now expanded its range into as many as 38 states, the report found. The data doesn't predict disease risk, just case counts.

The most common mosquito-borne viruses are West Nile, dengue, and Zika, while the most common disease resulting from the bite of an infected flea is the plague.

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

The nine new threats reported in the USA 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. "Time and again, we see patients seeking care that will help ease their suffering".

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"The bottom line is illnesses from mosquitoes, ticks and flea bites continue to impact our nation", CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, said in his first telebriefing since he was appointed to lead the federal health agency.

Train vector control staff on 5 core competencies for conducting prevention and control activities.

Government efforts to prevent vector-borne diseases include the funding of states and territories to detect and respond to infections and the development of improved diagnostic tests, vaccines and treatment for these diseases, the CDC said.

Lyle Petersen, M.D., MPH, director of the CDC's division of vector-borne diseases and one of the study's authors, noted that continued globalization has played an important role, especially when it comes to mosquito-borne diseases.

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

"This includes wearing long-sleeved shirts and long trousers, and making sure you use a proper insect repellent, especially when walking in wooded and grassy areas, where the risk for tick bites is significantly increased", Glatter said.

"After spending time in wooded areas or in parks, always make sure to inspect yourself and your family for ticks", Glatter continued.

As people travel, they pick up new diseases and new vectors, bringing them to new places.

Diseases from mosquitoes, ticks on the rise — CDC