The number of illnesses caused by mosquito, tick, and flea bites in the United States rose from 27,388 cases in 2004 to more than 96,075 cases in 2016, according to the latest Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During that time, nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were identified or introduced in the country.
CDC researchers analyzed information about 16 known insect-borne diseases from the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System to identify recent trends. Accurate estimates are difficult, however, because many infections are not recognized or reported. In 2016, the most common tick-borne diseases were Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis, also called anaplasmosis; the most common mosquito-borne viruses were West Nile, dengue, and Zika; and the most common disease from flea bites was the plague, which still occurs rarely.
Worldwide, mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas are major causes of sickness and death. The threat is increasing in the United States – probably due to several factors, according to the CDC – and the country needs to be better prepared. Possible reasons for the increasing risk include:
- Insects and the germs they spread are increasing in number and moving into new areas.
- Overseas travel and commerce are more common than ever.
- Insects are spreading new, previously unidentified germs.
Diane is a Senior Content Producer at Remedy Health Media, LLC. She writes the Daily Dose for HealthCentral and is the editorial director at HealthCommunities. Her goal is to contribute to a valuable, trustworthy, and informative experience for people who are searching for health information online.