Vectorborne Diseases Represent Growing Health Problem in the United States
Vectorborne diseases represent a large and growing health problem in the United States, with annual reports of tickborne diseases more than doubling over the past decade, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report examined trends in occurrence of nationally reportable vectorborne diseases between 2004 and 2016.
Key findings were as follows:
- 642,602 cases of 16 diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites transmitted through the bites of mosquitoes, ticks, or fleas were reported to the CDC between 2004 and 2016, though evidence suggests many cases go unreported.
- Tickborne disease more than doubled during this time period, representing 77% of all vectorborne disease reports.
- Lyme diseases accounted for 82% of tickborne diseases but fever rickettsioses, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis also became more prevalent.
- Tickborne disease cases predominated in the eastern continental United States and the Pacific coast.
- Mosquitoborne dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses were almost exclusively transmitted in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands, where they were periodically epidemic.
- West Nile virus was the major mosquitoborbe disease and found to be widely distributed in the continental United States.
- 9 vectorborne diseases were reported for the first time from the United States and US territories (eg, yellow fever).
Vectorborne disease are difficult to control and prevent, as these diseases often have animal reservoirs, many insecticides are ineffective at killing or controlling disease-spreading vectors, and vaccines to prevent vectorborne-infections are severely lacking. However, with the growing prevalence of these diseases, improved reporting and identification of strategies for preventing and responding to vectorborne diseases will become increasingly important.
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Rosenberg R, Lindsey NP, Fischer M, et al. Vital signs: trends in reported vectorborne disease cases – United States and territories, 2004-2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67(17):496-501. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6717e1.