Vector-borne diseases more than triple in US, CDC says

02 May, 2018, 02:10 | Author: Joshua Bennett
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Diseases like Lyme disease, Zika, Dengue, and West Nile that are spread by ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas tripled in the U.S. between 2004 and 2016, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Nine new germs - seven of them spread by ticks - have been newly introduced or discovered in the United States since 2004", said Redfield.

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, US health officials said Tuesday. "And we don't know what will threaten Americans next", Redfield said.

The responsibility for detecting and responding to diseases spread by vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks is nearly all funded locally and operated by local and state health departments. Lyme disease is the most common sickness transmitted by ticks, accounting for more than 36,000 tickborne diseases in 2016.

CDC officials said the United States is unprepared for a rise in illnesses caused by the bites of mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. These diseases are spread as mosquitoes expand into new territory and are brought home by travelers.

The most common tick-borne diseases in 2016 were Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis, a serious illness that infects white blood cells.

Authors of the report stressed that out of 16 reportable vector-borne diseases, only 1 of them-yellow fever-has a vaccine that individuals can use to protect themselves against infection, which is particularly troublesome as the burden of these diseases continues to grow.

According to data from a new CDC Vital Signs report, more than 640,000 cases of vector-borne illnesses like Zika, West Nile virus and Lyme disease were reported to the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS) by state health departments from 2004 through 2016, although the actual total is thought to be much higher.

Several factors are likely behind the increase, researchers said.

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.

Experts warn that climate change can exacerbate many public health threats, including diseases spread by insects and other animals that thrive in warmer conditions.

"The pace of emergence of new or obscure vector-borne pathogens through introduction or belated recognition appears to be increasing", the report said.

"First, we're working to expand the number of effective and publicly accepted mosquito prevention and control options".

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

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.

Though Petersen stopped short of saying that climate change was responsible for an increase in these types of illnesses, he did acknowledge that "temperature is important" for vector-borne diseases.



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