Find out which bugs are biting more and why
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of diseases spread by mosquitos, fleas, and ticks tripled from 2004 to 2016.
In 2004, there were fewer than 27,500 reported cases, but by 2016, that number had climbed past 96,000. In that timeframe, the CDC received over 640,000 reports that encompassed all of the U.S. and its territories.
These numbers likely are much higher, officials say. This is due to the fact that often people don’t recognize the symptoms of an illness or they go unreported. The best example of this is Lyme disease. Analysis from the CDC has found that about 300,000 people get it every year, yet there were only about 36,000 reported cases in 2016.
Why are the bugs bugging us so much?
The author of the report is Dr. Lyle R. Petersen, the CDC’s director of vector-borne diseases. He believes that there could be several reasons why there has been such a rise in insect-borne illnesses, such as the lack of new vaccines.
Reforestation in suburban areas may also be playing a role. Ticks use rodents and deer as their blood hosts, and because forests in many suburbs – especially the Northeast – have become thicker and deer hunting has dropped off, they have more animals to feed on.
The weather might also be a big factor in the spread of diseases. Ticks are now thriving in areas that used to be to too cold for them. And with hotter temperatures, mosquito habitats are spreading. Not only do warmer temperatures allow mosquitos to get infected faster, they also become more infectious.
“The amount of virus in the mosquito increases, and when it bites you, more virus gets into you and the chances of you getting infected and becoming sick goes up,” Petersen said.
Another reason is related to travel. With more people taking plane trips to places that have insect-borne diseases, illnesses such as Zika and dengue can now spread more easily. Dr. Petersen cites chikungunya as an example. In 2013, the disease showed up on St. Maarten, which was the first known appearance in the Western Hemisphere. In just a year, there were reports of local transmissions all over North, South, and Central America.
In addition to ticks and mosquitos, fleas are also becoming a bigger problem, and even today they still spread the lague. Between 2004 and 2016, the CDC received anywhere from two to 17 reported cases each year.
What can we do?
While experts continue to figure out ways to stop the spread of disease, there’s still a lot of work that has to be done. Currently, there are no vaccines for most of the viruses, which means for now, insect control is the most effective tactic. But even that has limits. When Zika came to Florida in 2016, it was quickly discovered that the mosquitos spreading it were resistant to most pesticides.
Peterson believes that more innovation is needed to combat ticks and mosquitos. “This is a long-term problem that’s going to getting worse, and it requires a sustained response over time,” he added.
How you can be proactive
We can only hope that scientists come up with a way to stop insects from spreading illnesses, but until that happens, it’s up to individuals to make sure they’re protected. You can keep your home safe from mosquitos, fleas, ticks, and other nasty insects with a misting system.
Discreetly placed around your yard, it will keep these biting bugs away from your property. To find out more about how this system works or to get a free onsite consultation, contact Platinum Mosquito Protection.