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CDC report finds vector-borne diseases on the rise

US cases nearly triple since 2004

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According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been significant increase in instances of vector-borne diseases across the U.S., with reported cases of diseases transmitted through the bites of blood-feeding ticks, mosquitos, and fleas nearly tripling nation-wide over a 13-year span.

Ronald Rosenberg, Sc.D., from CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases in Fort Collins, Colo., and colleagues analyzed data reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System pertaining to 16 vector-borne diseases from 2004 to 2016. The findings were tabulated by disease, vector type, location, and year.

During this period, a total of 642,602 cases of diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites transmitted through the bites of mosquitoes, ticks, or fleas were reported to CDC. The report indicates cases of tick-borne bacterial and protozoan diseases more than doubled during this period, jumping from approximately 22,000 in 2004 to more than 48,000 reported cases in 2016, with Lyme disease accounting for 82 percent of cumulative reported tick-borne disease.

Additionally, the combined incidence of reported anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis, which are tick-borne bacterial diseases, rose almost every year, as did spotted fever. Babesiosis, a tick-borne parasitic infection that has been notifiable since 2011, also contributed to the rise, according to the report.

While CDC identified a steady rise and spread of tick-borne diseases, the occurrence of mosquito-borne diseases was reportedly dispersed and more punctuated by epidemics. West Nile virus was the most commonly transmitted mosquito-borne disease in the continental U.S. and experienced a notable epidemic in 2012, particularly in Texas, while epidemics of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses were mostly confined to the U.S. territories.

Also notable is that from 2004-2016, nine vector-borne human diseases were reported for the first time from the U.S. and its territories.

CDC asserts these diseases are “a large and growing public health problem” in the U.S.

“Expanding sustainable vector-borne disease prevention programs is needed to respond to the ongoing and increasing threat of vector-borne disease,” the report reads.

 

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