Vector-Borne Disease Cases Have Tripled in the United States Since 2004

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The number of illnesses caused by mosquito, tick, and flea bites have tripled in the United States over the last 13 years, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overseas travel also is contributing to the increase, with travelers picking up insect-borne illnesses in other lands and bringing them back to the United States.

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. Plague, albeit rare, was noted as the most common flea-borne disease.

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 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.

Cases of tick-borne diseases doubled during the study period, from about 22,500 in 2004 to about 48,600 in 2016.

The report published Tuesday says there are likely many more cases that go unreported or unrecognized.

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.

The CDC said local public health departments need to do more to control mosquito, tick and flea populations.

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"Zika, West Nile, Lyme, and chikungunya-a growing list of diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea-have confronted the U.S.in recent years, making a lot of people sick". Differences in distribution and transmission dynamics of tickborne and mosquitoborne diseases are often rooted in biologic differences of the vectors. West Nile, dengue, and Zika accounted for the most mosquito-borne infections.

"Illnesses from mosquito, ticks and flea bites continue to impact our nation", and the threat of disease is increasing, Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC director, said in a news conference today (May 1).

Other factors, including an increase in global travel and more people living near wildlife, also affect the spread of these diseases, Petersen said. Dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses were nearly exclusively transmitted in Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"We understand that Congress and the administration have many hard choices to make", he said.

"The pace of emergence of new or obscure vector-borne pathogens through introduction or belated recognition appears to be increasing", the report said. "Increasing temperatures will tend to expand the ranges of these ticks further north as well as increasing the length of tick season".

Dr. Paul Auwaerter, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, urged Congress to increase funding "for surveillance and prevention of vector-borne diseases, including resources to support research on the most effective methods for preventing tick-borne infections".

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

People with pets should regularly inspect the animals to make sure they aren't carrying ticks that can be brought indoors, Glatter said.

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