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The CDC Reports Mosquito, Flea, and Tick-Borne Illnesses Have Tripled in the Last 13 Years

Considering we live in a part of the country that is steeped in the Lyme epidemic, the news about ticks is not surprising. Tick disease and tick control is a daily conversation around here. However, with so much focus on ticks and Lyme disease maybe we haven’t paid as much attention as we should to these other dangerous vectors. This is the first time the CDC has reported on ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas in one report and it really amplifies the burden of these illnesses on the United States. In the year 2004 there were 27,388 cases of disease caused by these pests. In 2016 there were 96,075 cases. The CDC states that the US needs to be better prepared for the dangers these rising numbers can cause.

Graph showing increase in disease cases from mosquitoes ticks and fleas

Mosquitoes and Fleas

Zika, West Nile virus and dengue fever are all spread by mosquitoes, can be transmitted locally in the U.S., and were the most heavily transmitted during this 13-year study.

While fairly rare, the plague is transmitted locally by fleas in the US. The most recent cases have occurred in New Mexico and Arizona.

Of the cases monitored in the thirteen-year uprising, 40% of them were caused by mosquitoes and fleas.

Why are Vector-Borne Diseases on the Rise?

Overseas travel and commerce are a large contributing factor to the increase in mosquito-borne illness. “We don’t know what will threaten Americans next,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. The increase in the number of mosquitoes and ticks as well as their movement into areas of the country they were not recognized before are also contributing factors to the rise in disease.

New germs that can be transmitted by ticks and mosquitoes have surfaced within the last 13 years. Lyle Petersen, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases states that “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.”

The CDC advises local governments focus on 3 things: 1. tracking and testing for disease and the mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas that carry them. 2. training staff on protection and control. 3. training the public on control and treatment.

What Should We Do to Lower Our Risk?

Finally, the CDC report reminds us of the basics of at-home protection and control.

  • Use insect repellent.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants, tucking your pants into your socks so that ticks cannot climb up your legs.
  • Treat clothes and tents with permethrin or buy pretreated materials.
  • Do thorough tick checks when returning home.
  • Treat and check pets for ticks and fleas.

These are just the basics. At Mosquito Squad of the South Shore, we know that tick protection isn’t new for you. However, the added emphasis on protecting against mosquitoes and fleas may seem overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be that way. The same barrier treatment that we use to protect against ticks will also eliminate 85-90% of mosquitoes from your yard and continue to work for up to 3 weeks. The added yearlong protection of our tick tube system will have you already working on next year’s tick season before it begins. And we can add flea control to your regular tick or mosquito treatment.

The recognition of these rising numbers may be frightening, but if we all do our part in controlling mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas at home we are helping to fight the spread of disease. Let Mosquito Squad of Southeastern Mass help you do your part. Call us today.