Tickborne Diseases Are On the Rise. Is Climate Change to Blame?

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The CDC reported that vector-borne diseases from mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas have more than tripled since 2004.

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

And while the numbers are stunning, the CDC says that a lack of preparedness and ease of travel will only exacerbate the problem. The only flea-borne disease is plague, but it, thankfully, is extremely rare.

"It's something we're certainly concerned with and we're aware of, but there's no simple answer to the question", Rosenberg said. You can still find pages created before the Trump administration that fully report the science, such as a two-pager titled, "Climate change increases the number and geographic range of disease-carrying insects and ticks". The actual burden is thought to be "substantially higher", researchers wrote. The dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses they're known to carry have been only rarely documented in the continental United States, with cases more commonly reported in US territories like Puerto Rico.

Although most kinds of mosquitoes are just nuisance mosquitoes, some kinds of mosquitoes spread viruses that can cause disease.

"We have seen an increase in the types of tick-borne pathogens".

Over 80 percent of pest control organizations lack the capacity to handle increasing rates of new disease carried by a growing population of infected mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. A traveler can be infected with a mosquito-borne disease, such as Zika, in one country, and then unknowingly transport it home. Accordingly, mosquito-borne diseases in the United States went up from about 5,000 cases in 2004 to nearly 48,000 in 2016.

When the weather gets warm and tick season starts, most people worry about Lyme disease.

Commerce moves mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas around the world.

"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", Petersen said. Vectors are disease transmitters, usually insects via their bites. "We have improvements in vector control, better diagnostics and research, and better methods of treating and preventing human infection. Second, CDC is working with state and local health departments to build or rebuild comprehensive vector programs that have eroded over time", he said.

She says, climate change could be a factor, because warmer winters extend the lifecycle of ticks.

Early symptoms of Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases like anaplasmosis include fever, rash, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

Wesson said another reason is because doctors are able to diagnose more of these diseases.