Insect and tick diseases on the rise in NY

Glen Mclaughlin
May 3, 2018

Deer ticks are most common in our area and with deer ticks comes Lyme Disease.

Over half of the 2016 cases of vector-borne diseases were spread by ticks, 82% of which were Lyme disease. It remains rare but persistent: Between two and 17 cases were reported from 2004 to 2016, mostly in the Southwest. "Where there are ticks, there comes diseases", said Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases.

The reason for the increase in diseases spread by mosquitoes largely has to do with the fact that people and goods are traveling and accessing different parts of the world more now than in the past. The illnesses include cases of West Nile virus, Lyme disease and Zika virus.

Rates have more than tripled over the past decade.

Other home-grown bacteria and viruses also live in ticks, mosquitoes and fleas. If you think you may have been bitten by a tick and you develop a skin rash (the skin rash diagnostic of Lyme disease is the erythema migrans rash), speak to your GP - they may prescribe antibiotics if it is likely to be Lyme disease, which will clear the infection.

The report also said that the USA was "not fully prepared" for the growing number of illnesses transmitted by the insects. As temperatures and precipitation patterns change, research suggests that some disease-carrying vectors, like mosquitoes and ticks, may be able to spread into new territories, reproduce more easily, or become more aggressive at seeking out and biting human hosts.

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"Climate change certainly has to be treated as a realistic possibility", he says. Warning signs are posted at many Long Island parks and people are taking precautions. "Not only do they pose a threat in terms of public health but they are a awful nuisance species as well", said Bartholomay.

"These are the most risky animals on the planet because they spread very unsafe diseases that spread not only in humans, but also from humans to animals and back to humans", he said.

"The mosquito-borne diseases tend to get worse during heat waves", Petersen explained.

The CDC estimates there are approximately 300,000 cases of lyme disease each year alone! "Your dog can get Lyme disease as well so it's really important to protect yourself and your pets", he said.

The first step to avoiding the disease is avoiding ticks. "That said we still recommend everybody take prudent efforts to stop getting mosquito bites".

"We went from zero to thousands of cases a year of West Nile Virus", Dr. Gaines with the Virginia Department of Health said. Unlike tick-borne diseases, which are not infectious, mosquito-borne diseases are. "Time and again, we see patients seeking care that will help ease their suffering".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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