Within the past few years, tick and mosquito-borne illnesses have been spreading at an alarming rate—and this year, experts are predicting the situation may become worse than ever before.
Last week (May 2), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an interesting report.
The CDC report revealed that diseases transmitted through the bites of blood-feeding ticks and mosquitos (also known as vector-borne diseases) are a “growing public health problem” in the United States.
“It’s very important that the public is very aware that these are more than summertime nuisances— you can get very severe diseases from ticks and mosquitoes,” said Dr. Lyle Peterson, an author of the report.
Vector-borne diseases cause more than 7000,000 deaths every single year, says the World Health Organization.
Between 2014 and 2016, CDC researchers in the US identified a growing number of cases of the following 16 vector-borne diseases:
- Lyme disease
- spotted fever rickettsiosis
- Powassan virus
- Dengue viruses
- Zika virus
- West Nile virus
- chikungunya virus
- California serogroup viruses
- St Louis encephalitis virus
- Eastern equine encephalitis virus
- yellow fever virus
In those eight years, the number of cases of vector-borne illnesses caused by ticks, in particular, went up more than 45% (from 22,527 to 48,610).
Many scientists attribute this increase to warm temperatures and international travel.
“It’s a perfect storm when you’ve got this huge increase in tick and people exposed to ticks and then you have a giant Lyme disease problem, and compounding that is that in recent years, we’ve had some warmer temperatures,” Petersen explained.
“For the mosquito-borne diseases, like West Nile, Zika, and chikungunya, for example, one of the big problems is that people and goods are moving around the planet at ever-increasing rates and speed,” he continued.
“And so basically any of these mosquito-borne diseases can be transmitted almost anywhere in the world in the matter of a day.”
Ticks can be found in backyards, under leaves, on ground cover, around walls, and near structures and woodpiles.
“They are mainly active outdoors in wooded areas amongst shrubs, trees, and tall grasses,” research scientist Goudarz Molaei told CNN.
In the United States, there are different kinds of ticks, but three types are most prominent:
- black-legged ticks, in the Northeast and upper Midwest
- dog ticks, in the Midwestern and Eastern US
- lone star ticks, in Southeastern and Eastern states
These three different kinds of ticks can transmit up to 15 diseases. However, the black-legged tick is definitely the most dangerous in terms of disease.
“It is involved in transmission of at least five important disease agents,” the scientist noted.
The most common tick-borne illness is Lyme disease, making up 82% of cases in the CDC report.
“Symptoms of early Lyme disease may present as a flu-like illness (fever, chills, sweats, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, and joint point,” Lymedisease.org explains. A common misconception is that Lyme disease is always accompanied by a bulls-eye rash. However, the CDC has noted that less than half (42%) of infect people present with this symptom.
With mosquitos, the most common risk is West Nile Virus (WNV), which can sometimes be fatal.
“West Nile Virus cases have been reported in all of the continental United States. There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV,” says the CDC.
Luckily, most people don’t get symptoms related to WNV; however, 1 in 5 will develop a fever— and, for 1 in 150, it can be fatal.
All in all, this year is going to be rough for everyone.
Luckily we have a few pointers on how you can reduce your risk of being bitten by these disease-riddled ticks and mosquitos.
Check out the video below!
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Source: Conde Nast: Self via Tout