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CDC says bug-borne illnesses on the rise

CDC says bug-borne illnesses on the rise

The report, released Tuesday, shows that the number of reported cases of these diseases jumped from 27,388 cases in 2004 to more than 96,000 cases 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", said CDC director Robert Redfield. The longevity, distribution, biting habits, and proliferation of the vectors all affect disease transmission, and, according to the report, they're all dependent on environmental factors such as rainfall, temperature, and shelter.

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. People also carry these diseases to new places as they travel. Since 2004, at least nine such diseases have been newly discovered or introduced into the United States.

Cases of tick-borne disease more than doubled, and accounted for more than three-quarters of all vector-borne disease, reported Ronald Rosenberg, ScD, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues.

Although the incidence of vector-borne diseases rose steadily since 2004, 2016 experienced a huge spike in mosquito-borne disease compared to previous years because of the appearance of Zika, with 41,680 cases alone that year.

Researchers warned that their numbers likely do not include every case, as many infections are not reported.

Currently, the most common tick-borne disease in the United States is Lyme disease.

Climate change, although not explicitly mentioned in the report, is thought to be a major factor in the spread of vectorborne illnesses, especially Lyme disease, as ticks move northward into areas that were previously too cold for their survival. Dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses were nearly exclusively transmitted in Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Overseas travel and commerce are also increasingly common, and someone infected with a mosquito-borne disease like Zika in one country can unknowingly transport it home.




The findings were published May 1 by the CDC as a Vital Signs report.

The CDC said more than 80 percent of vector-control organizations across the United States lack the capacity to prevent and control these fast-spreading, demanding illnesses.

With added support, these agencies can better test for and track diseases and pests, train staff to conduct prevention and control activities, and educate the public on how to prevent bites, the researchers said.

Paul Auwaerterhead of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, called for more research money for diagnostics, vaccines and treatments for the diseases.

For example, rising temperatures will tend to expand the range of ticks farther north, thereby expanding tick season, "which puts people at risk for a longer time", Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, said at the news conference.

"Zika funding helped prepare us for these types of diseases, but more funding is necessary", he said. A recent survey of mosquito control agencies found that 84 percent needed help with basics like surveillance and pesticide-resistance testing, Petersen said.

"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.

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