Zika, Lyme drive big increase in bug-borne disease in U.S.
NBC News – More and more Americans are being infected with diseases carried by ticks and mosquitoes, federal researchers report.
More than 640,000 Americans were infected by so-called vector-borne diseases between 2004 and 2016, and nine new diseases, from Bourbon virus to Zika, have shown up, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
In 2004, just 27,388 cases of these diseases were reported. In 2016, more than 96,000 were. These numbers are almost certainly an underestimate, the CDC added.
Most of the increase comes from the arrival of the Zika virus in 2015 and from ticks.
Longer, hotter summers are not helping, said Dr. Lyle Petersen of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.
“The number of reported vector-borne disease cases has tripled over the last 13 years,” Petersen told reporters.
This includes a doubling of diseases transmitted by ticks, which in turn accounted for 60 percent of all vector-borne diseases, he said.
West Nile virus is the most common infection spread by mosquitoes in the U.S.
It was introduced in New York in 1999 and has since spread across the continent, causing annual epidemics, Petersen said.
Zika, which showed up in 2015 as part of its flash spread across the Americas, is now a permanent resident of Puerto Rico and causes sporadic outbreaks in Texas and Florida.
“Lyme disease accounted for 82 percent of all tick-borne disease reports during 2004–2016,” the CDC team wrote in their report.
Other home-grown bacteria and viruses also live in ticks, mosquitoes and fleas. [Quarter-Sized Mosquitoes Reported in This U.S. State]
“Among the diseases on the list that are caused by indigenous pathogens are Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi); West Nile, dengue and Zika virus diseases; plague (Yersinia pestis); and spotted fever rickettsioses,” they wrote. “Malaria and yellow fever are no longer transmitted in the United States but have the potential to be reintroduced.” Read more.