The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that cases of vector-borne diseases, primarily stemming from tick and mosquito bites, have tripled since 2004.
With summer around the corner, there has been an uptick in these bites that are more aggressive than ever and officials are urging us to follow safety precautions.
According to the Washington Post, ticks – also known as parasitic arthropods – are the leading source of disease in the country, even more than mosquito bites, and are responsible for 76.51 percent of the cases, most notably leading to Lyme disease. More than 82 percent of tick-born cases were linked to Lyme disease coming from the deer tick. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, as well as newer diseases, are also caused by tick bites and are on the rise. Diseases caused by mosquito bites are also seeing an increase and include Zika, chikungunya viruses, malaria, yellow fever, West Nile virus, and other epidemics.
For centuries, ticks and mosquitoes have been known to spread diseases, with the first recorded outbreak in China back in 2700 B.C. Most recently, we have seen three mosquito-related diseases take the world by storm in just a few years alone, suggesting that several factors have come into play, such as warming temperatures and quicker global travel, that help to spread the diseases internationally across borders and oceans. Warmer climates have also helped breed and sustain the ticks and mosquitoes.
As the Washington Post reported, five percent of 900 tick species are known to cause diseases and 38 percent of all tick species have been known to bite humans. Nine new vector-borne diseases were found in the United States, and seven were from tick bites. In the last 14 years, researchers have found that diseases caused by ticks and mosquitoes more than tripled, and there is a high probability that more diseases will be found.
In the Center for Disease Control’s May 2018 report, they discovered that one type of tick bite causes a severe allergy to red meat, WHIO reported. Known as the “Lone Star,” a very aggressive tick that bites humans and can be spotted when the adult female has a white dot on her back, is not linked to Lyme disease. This specific strand of disease carries an alpha-gal sugar that is found in red meat and that humans don’t have. A bite from the tick can trigger a person’s immune system to create antibodies to the sugar, causing an allergic reaction where the body rejects red meat.
“The weird thing about this reaction is it can occur within three to 10 or 12 hours, so patients have no idea what prompted their allergic reactions,” Ronald Saff, an assistant clinical professor at Florida State University College of Medicine, told Business Insider.
With illnesses on the rise, hot summer days and heat waves on the horizon, authorities are suggesting we follow a series of preventive measures such as eliminating any pools of water that may be found around the backyard that are perfect breeding spots for mosquitoes, wearing mosquito repellents that are EPA-approved, avoiding areas where ticks may be found, and wearing CDC-recommended tick-repellents. Showering and conducting tick checks are also imperative. If a tick is found, they recommend removing the tick with tweezers and consulting a doctor immediately after.