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Bug-Borne Illnesses

Illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have tripled in the U.S., with more than 640,000 cases reported during the 13 years from 2004 through 2016.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were discovered or introduced into the United States during this time. Bug-borne illness is a significant public health concern, both to the Department of Defense (DoD) and to the broader national and international public health community.

Disease cases from infected mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas have tripled in 13 years. 

The CDC’s report, Vital Signs, is the first summary collectively examining data trends for all nationally notifiable diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea. It provides detailed information on the growing burden of mosquito-borne and tickborne illnesses in the U.S.

“Zika, West Nile, Lyme, and chikungunya—a growing list of diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea—have confronted the U.S. in recent years, making a lot of people sick. And we don’t know what will threaten Americans next,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “Our Nation’s first lines of defense are state and local health departments and vector control organizations, and we must continue to enhance our investment in their ability to fight against these diseases.”

Key CDC Findings

  • A total of 642,602 cases of disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea were reported in the U.S. and its territories from 2004 through 2016.
  • The number of reported tickborne diseases more than doubled in 13 years and accounted for more than 60 percent of all reported mosquito-borne, tickborne, and fleaborne disease cases. Diseases from ticks vary from region to region across the U.S. and those regions are expanding.
  • From 2004 through 2016, seven new germs spread through the bite of an infected tick were discovered or recognized in the U.S. as being able to infect people.
  • Reducing the spread of these diseases and responding to outbreaks effectively will require additional capacity at the state and local level for tracking, diagnosing, and reporting cases; controlling mosquitoes and ticks; and preventing new infections; and for the public and private sector to develop new diagnostic and vector control tools.
Bug-Related Facts
3x. Disease cases from mosquito, tick, and flea bites tripled in the US from 2004 to 2016.
9. Nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks have been discovered or introduced since 2004.
8 in 10. About 80% of vector control organizations lack critical prevention and control capacities.

Mosquito-borne Illnesses

Mosquito-borne illness is a significant public health concern, both to the Department of Defense (DoD) and to the broader national and international public health community. Here, we provide a collection of resources to assist in education and risk communication for partners and stakeholders on issues relating to mosquito control and prevention, as well as the prevention of mosquito-borne infectious disease.

Learn about Prevention of Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Causes for Increased Illnesses

The increase in diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea in the U.S. is likely due to many factors: 

  • Mosquitoes and ticks and the germs they spread are increasing in number and moving into new areas. As a result, more people are at risk for infection. 
  • Overseas travel and commerce are more common than ever before. A traveler can be infected with a mosquito-borne disease, like Zika, in one country, and then unknowingly transport it home. 
  • Finally, new germs spread by mosquito and tick bites have been discovered and the list of nationally notifiable diseases has grown.

“The data show that we’re seeing a steady increase and spread of tickborne diseases, and an accelerating trend of mosquito-borne diseases introduced from other parts of the world,” said 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. “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.”

What Can I Do to Protect Myself?

  • Use an Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Treat items, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
  • Take steps to control ticks and fleas on pets.
  • Find and remove ticks daily from family and pets.
  • Take steps to control mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas inside and outside your home.

More information about bug-borne illnesses

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