CDC Reports U.S. Illnesses from Mosquito, Tick, and Flea Bites Increasing

In 2016, the most common mosquito-borne viruses were West Nile, dengue, and Zika, while the most common tickborne diseases were Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis/anaplasmosis. The most common disease resulting from the bite of an infected flea was plague, though it was rare.

Illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have tripled in the U.S., with more than 640,000 cases reportedbetween 2004 and 2016, according to the latest Vital Signsreport by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the 13 years between 2004 and 2016, nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were discovered or introduced into the U.S. 

For the report, CDC scientists analyzed data reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System for 16 notifiable vector-borne diseases from 2004 through 2016 to identify trends. The report is CDC’s first summary on this data, and provides detailed information on the growing problem of mosquito-borne and tickborne illnesses in the U.S.


“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 R. Redfield, M.D., said. “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.”


In 2016, the most common mosquito-borne viruses were West Nile, dengue, and Zika, while the most common tickborne diseases were Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis/anaplasmosis. The most common disease resulting from the bite of an infected flea was plague, though it was rare.


The increase in diseases caused by the bite of these infected insects is likely due to many factors, including an increasing number and spread of mosquitoes and ticks as well as overseas travel becoming more common. In addition, new germs spread this way have been discovered and there are more national notifiable diseases.


“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,” said Lyle Petersen, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. “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.”


The report calls for state and local public health agencies to help by building and sustaining public health programs that test for and track diseases and the mosquitoes and ticks that spread them, as well as training vector control staff on prevention and control activities and educating the public about how to prevent bites and control germs spread by fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks. 


The full report can be read here

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