Here’s what you need to know
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released an unsettling report that diseases from ticks and insects more than tripled between 2004 and 2016. These diseases, known as vector-borne illnesses include Lyme disease, West Nile Virus, and Zika, to name a few. There’s no indication that the spread of these illnesses is slowing down, and this is definitely a growing public health problem.
In the dozen years of that study, a total of 642,602 cases of vector-borne diseases were reported, and 75% of those were attributed to tick-borne illnesses. Of those tick-borne illnesses, 82% were of Lyme disease, though experts maintain that it is vastly underreported, estimating that the actual number of Lyme cases at any given time is likely ten times what is reported.
What is interesting to note is that the report showed a steady rise in tick-borne diseases, where as mosquito-borne diseases were more scattered and punctuated by epidemics, such as the Zika virus, which spiked in 2016, yet is no longer a threat. Of all the mosquito-transmitted diseases, West Nile virus was the most commonly transmitted, with the most notable epidemic occurring in Texas in 2012.
But WHY are vector-borne diseases climbing?
There are several factors contributing to the rise of vector-borne illnesses here, and they differ by bug.
Tick-borne diseases are likely rising due to the increase of people moving to more wooded areas where there are many more deer, which are common hosts of black-legged ticks (or deer ticks), the main vector of Lyme disease. Simply put — more exposure to deer ticks leads to an increase of diseases transmitted by them. But it’s not just that more people are living near forested areas — climate change is a key factor, too. Rising temperatures in recent years have allowed ticks to migrate farther north and extended the tick season.
Mosquito-borne diseases, on the other hand, appear to have risen thanks to travelers. People travel with much more frequency these days, and to different parts of the world now more than ever before. It’s relatively easy for a traveler to cause an outbreak of a mosquito-borne illness after returning home from an area of the world where there is an epidemic. All it takes is one mosquito bite from an infected mosquito abroad, then returning home and getting bitten by another mosquito, who then carries the pathogen to the next person. This is what happened with Zika in 2016.
The government is not prepared to handle the rise of vector-borne illnesses.
None of the news in this report is good news, but the scarier part about it is that the CDC concluded that nearly 85% of vector control organizations need improvement in at least one or more of five core competencies, such as testing for pesticide resistance or even having an action plan to kill mosquitoes and ticks at every life stage.
Dr. Lyle Peterson, one of the authors of the CDC report, stated to CNBC: “Our nation is not fully prepared to deal with this new onslaught of vector-borne diseases. We need better tools to control them and we need to strengthen health departments and vector-control organizations to deal with them as well.”
Knowing that government organizations have a long way to go to deal with mosquitoes and ticks is not a comforting thought, but that’s why Mosquito Squad exists. As a homeowner, you can take matters into your own hands, at least on your own property. With Mosquito Squad, you have control over the mosquito and tick populations in your own yard, thus greatly reducing the chances of contracting a vector-borne illness. Our barrier control treatment eliminates up to 90% of the mosquitoes and ticks on your property, and by having our professionals treat your yard once every three weeks with a seasonal plan, you can rest assured your family and pets are protected all summer long.
Contact Mosquito Squad of Southeastern Nassau County today to protect you and your loved ones from mosquitoes, ticks, and other vectors that carry dangerous diseases. It’s time to take back your yard and enjoy your summers. Give us a call at (516) 874-3003 for a free consultation. We look forward to helping you!