The number of illnesses caused by the bite of infected mosquitoes, ticks and fleas has more than tripled in the United States, and the country is not fully prepared to handle the increased burden, CDC officials said today.
These pests caused more than 96,000 cases of illness in 2016, up from roughly 27,388 in 2004 and part of a continuing increase in insect-borne diseases, CDC researchers said.
There were nine vector-borne human diseases that were reported for the first time in the US from 2004 to 2016.
Currently, the most common tick-borne disease in the United States is Lyme disease.
The number of illnesses in the US caused by mosquito, tick and flea bites has made a dramatic jump in the last decade, raising concerns that a changing climate could lead to more widespread viral outbreaks.
"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", CDC chief Robert Redfield said. These diseases are spread as mosquitoes expand into new territory and are brought home by travelers. "They are spread by movements of people or animals or vectors, and with expanding global travel and trade, all diseases are basically a plane flight away", he 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 number of reported diseases from ticks more than doubled during the study period and accounted for more than 60 percent of all reported cases. West Nile, dengue and Zika were the most common mosquito-borne germs. Among them were cases of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and West Nile.
"The pace of emergence of new or obscure vector-borne pathogens through introduction or belated recognition appears to be increasing", the report said.
As temperatures rise, ticks that carry infections can spread further north and can remain infectious longer into fall and winter, Petersen said.
CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, acknowledged the "growing burden" of these vector-borne illnesses, but he expressed optimism about the ability of state and local health departments, vector control organizations, and industry to help protect the public from these types of threats. He added that "a number of new germs spread through these bites have been introduced [in the report]-nine since 2004".
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".
Warmer weather is an important cause of the surge in cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the lead author of a study in the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. "Time and again, we see patients seeking care that will help ease their suffering".
Treating outdoor gear, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with permethrin or use permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
"After spending time in wooded areas or in parks, always make sure to inspect yourself and your family for ticks", Glatter continued.