The Centers for Disease Control is worried about the rapid spread of infections by tick and mosquitoes. The government agency warned that the number of people getting diseases transmitted by mosquito, tick, and flea bites has more than tripled in the United States in recent years.
Federal health officials reported on Tuesday that the increase in infections spread by bug bites should be warned about and that Americas should protect themselves with bug repellent. According to The New York Times, since 2004, at least nine such diseases have been discovered or newly introduced here.
New tickborne diseases like Heartland virus are showing up in the continental United States, even as cases of Lyme disease and other established infections are growing. On island territories like Puerto Rico, the threat is mosquitoes carrying viruses like dengue and Zika. Warmer weather is an important cause of the surge, according to the lead author of a study published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
However, the author, Dr. Lyle R. Petersen, the agency’s director of vector-borne diseases, declined to link the increase to the politically fraught issue of climate change, and the report does not mention climate change or global warming. Many other factors are at work, he emphasized, including increased jet travel and a lack of vaccines. It’s absolutely fascinating that spring and summer, the time of year when it’s typically warmer anyway, is now climate change. Insects have been passing on infectious diseases since humans were getting bitten by them, and it has nothing to do with climate change.
“The numbers on some of these diseases have gone to astronomical levels,” Dr. Petersen added.
Between 2004 and 2016, about 643,000 cases of 16 insect-borne illnesses were reported to the C.D.C. — 27,000 a year in 2004, rising to 96,000 by 2016. (The year 2004 was chosen as a baseline because the agency began requiring more detailed reporting then.) The real case numbers were undoubtedly far larger, Dr. Petersen said. For example, the CDC estimates that about 300,000 Americans get Lyme disease each year, but only about 35,000 diagnoses are reported.
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