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Number Getting Illnesses From Ticks, Mosquitoes, Fleas Triples, CDC Says

Be on the lookout for ticks this spring, which may carry Lyme disease, according to local and federal health officials.
Be on the lookout for ticks this spring, which may carry Lyme disease, according to local and federal health officials. Photo Credit: USDA

With temperatures warming up, federal officials are warning area residents to be alert during Lyme Disease Awareness Month in May and through the summer.

Illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have tripled nationally in the past decade, with more than 640,000 cases reported during the 13 years from 2004 through 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since then, nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were discovered or introduced into the country.

The recently released findings mark the CDC’s first study examining the data involving the bites of mosquitos, ticks and fleas. Since 2004, the disease cases has risen from 27,388 to a spike of 90,075 in 2016.

“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. And we don’t know what will threaten Americans next,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement. “Our Nation’s first lines of defense are state and local health departments and vector control organizations, and we must continue to enhance our investment in their ability to fight against these diseases.”

The CDC report states that there are several factors that have led to the rise in diseases spread by mosquitos, ticks and fleas.

“Mosquitoes and ticks and the germs they spread are increasing in number and moving into new areas. As a result, more people are at risk for infection. Overseas travel and commerce are more common than ever before. A traveler can be infected with a mosquito-borne disease, like Zika, in one country, and then unknowingly transport it home. Finally, new germs spread by mosquito and tick bites have been discovered and the list of nationally notifiable diseases has grown.”

According to the study, A total of 642,602 cases of disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea were reported in the country from 2004 to 2016. The number of reported tickborne diseases more than doubled in the 13 years and accounted for more than 60 percent of all the cases. During that time, seven new germs spread through the bite of an infected tick were discovered or recognized in the U.S. as being able to infect people.

To combat the spread of diseases from these insects, the CDC has advised that local residents should: 

  • Use an Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Treat items, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with permethrin or use permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
  • Take steps to control ticks and fleas on pets.
  • Find and remove ticks daily from family and pets.
  • Take steps to control mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas inside and outside your home

“The data show that we’re seeing a steady increase and spread of tickborne diseases, and an accelerating trend of mosquito-borne diseases introduced from other parts of the world,” Lyle Petersen, director of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases added. “We need to support state and local health agencies responsible for detecting and responding to these diseases and controlling the mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas that spread them.”

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