Tick, mosquito infections spreading rapidly, CDC finds

West Nile virus (WNV) was the most commonly transmitted mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States, according to the report, followed by dengue and Zika virus. Plus, new vectors, like a tick from Asia that was recently found in New Jersey for the first time, continue to appear and may bring new diseases.

"Why the increase? Mosquitoes and ticks are moving into new areas nationwide", Robert Redfield, MD, director of the CDC said in a media telebriefing.

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. Overall, more than 640,000 cases of these so-called vector-borne diseases were reported during the study period. That's according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published today (May 1).

West Nile virus was the most common form of mosquito-borne illness, Petersen said, but there has been a recent "accelerating trend" of mosquito-borne disease being introduced to the US, with West Nile in 1999, chikungunya in 2014, and Zika in 2016. Plague, albeit rare, was noted as the most common flea-borne disease. Similarly, only 840 cases of West Nile virus were diagnosed in 2016, but data suggests as many as 91,000 Americans may have been infected but not diagnosed.

They include two previously unknown, life-threatening tick-borne viruses - Heartland and Bourbon - that were reported from the Midwest, and the chikungunya and Zika viruses transmitted by mosquitoes that were introduced to Puerto Rico in 2014 and 2015.

Jerusalem's new embassy row to be named 'Trump Town'?
The president said he called the ambassador to Israel , David Friedman, and asked about the expenditure. View of the US Consulate in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood, February 24, 2018.

From 2004 to 2016, diseases from mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas tripled.

After looking at data reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS), the researchers found that tick-borne diseases made up over 75% of reports.

The CDC report mentions the complex impact of the environment on vector-borne disease epidemiology, including the effect of rainfall, temperature and shelter on the "longevity, distribution, biting habits, and propagation of vectors, which ultimately affect the intensity of transmission", but it does not specifically mention rising global temperatures. And the germs that have been discovered in recent years also add to the number of reported vector-borne diseases in the United States, the CDC said. Petersen said higher temperatures also raise the risk for mosquito-borne diseases.

"Many of these diseases are sensitive to temperatures", Dr. Peterson said.

Tick and mosquito season is coming - and it could be bad. "For tick-borne disease, increasing temperatures will tend to expand the range of these ticks farther north as well as increasing the length of tick season".

The Brave Texas Woman Behind Southwest Airlines Flight 1380's Miraculous Landing
It was not an explosion, he said, likening it more to a car's combustion engine throwing a rod, which bangs around the engine. Andrew Needum (left) and Tim McGinty (right). "I felt moved to act, as well as other people on that plane", Needum said.

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

CDC officials said the United States is unprepared for a rise in illnesses caused by the bites of mosquitoes, ticks and fleas.

Petersen said that federal programs are increasing funding for those organizations.

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.

"It will take all of us to prevent this", Dr. Redfield stressed.

Man arrested after shooting injures 2 Dallas officers, store employee
Five police officers in Dallas were killed by a sniper in 2016 in an attack that sent shockwaves through the city and nation. The department also tweeted all three officers are out of surgery and that the suspect, Armando Juarez, 29, was in custody.

As the number of vector-borne cases continues to increase, the burden on local and state health departments has grown as well.

  • Jermaine Castillo