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Ashley Welch
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Many cities in the U.S. are facing an increasing number of days indicating a heightened risk for disease transmission, according to new research

As global temperatures continue to rise, the number of mosquito "disease danger days" is increasing across much of the United States, representing a greater risk for transmission of mosquito-borne diseases, according to a new report.

Among the many consequences of climate change is a shift in the pattern, incidence and location of insect-borne diseases, including those spread by the bites of mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. These diseases pose a significant public health risk and can have deadly consequences, warns the report published by Climate Central, a nonprofit news organization that analyzes and reports on climate science.

While a variety of mosquitoes are found throughout the U.S., the researchers focused on two species: Culex and Aedes (encompassing both Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). These mosquitoes both transmit West Nile virus while Aedes mosquitoes also transmit other dangerous viruses, including dengue, Zika, chikungunya, and Yellow Fever.

a insect on a branch: gettyimages-506748274.jpgTo determine the role temperature is playing in disease transmission from mosquitoes, researchers from Climate Central analyzed the number of days each year in the spring, summer and fall with an average temperature between 61 degrees and 93 degrees Fahrenheit from 1970 to 2017. This temperature is considered the range for transmission of the diseases spread by Aedes and Culex mosquitoes.

Out of the 244 cities the researchers analyzed, 94 percent are seeing an increase in the number of "disease danger days," or days indicating a heightened risk for disease transmission.

The top 10 cities with the biggest change in the number of disease danger days since 1970 include:

Reno, NVSan Francisco, CASanta Maria, CA Las Cruces, NMEl Paso, TXTucson, AZHelena, MTErie, PAFresno, CABluefield, VAHealth impacts of climate change

This is not the first report to warn about the about the impact of climate change on diseases caused by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas (also called vectors).

In a 2017 report from the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, an organization representing 500,000 clinical practitioners aimed at taking action against climate change, Dr. Nitin Damle, the former president of the American College of Physicians, shared that over the past five years, his practice has seen a significant rise in tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease and other infections.

"Those blacklegged ticks, the carriers of Lyme disease, thrive in warm, muggy weather," Damle wrote. "In my home state of Rhode Island, where winters have gotten warmer and shorter, these tiny, sesame seed-sized insects have more time to bite humans and spread Lyme disease. Tick season used to be relegated to summer; it now spans spring and autumn. And this isn't limited to the typical tick hotspot states."

Another 2017 report, entitled The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, also warns that seasonal patterns and warming are expected to not only lead to earlier seasonal tick activity but may also speed up mosquito biting rates, accelerate the mosquito life cycle and decrease the time needed for an infected mosquito to transmit West Nile Virus.

And earlier this year, the CDC reported that the number of illnesses caused by mosquito, tick, and flea bites has tripled in the United States over the last 13 years, though the report also does not specifically mention climate change or global warming as factors.

How to protect yourself from vector-borne diseases

Along with tackling the causes of global warming to mitigate its health consequences, experts are calling on government officials to take steps to reduce the spread of illnesses by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. Researchers say state and local officials should build and sustain public health programs that test for and track vector-borne diseases, train vector control staff appropriately, and educate the public on how best to prevent bites and control the spread of germs by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas in their communities.

On a daily basis, everyone can help keep their families safe by:

Using an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin.Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.Treating outdoor gear, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with permethrin or use permethrin-treated clothing and gear.Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks.Taking steps to control ticks and fleas on pets.Taking steps to control mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas inside and outside your home, including using screens on windows and air conditioning when available. Once a week, empty out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers to prevent mosquitoes from breeding there.


Mom sounds alarm after son's mosquito bite causes seizures, brain swelling

LoriAnne Surrett says she thinks her little boy, Noah, got bit while playing outside. But the bite came from a mosquito carrying the virus that causes La Crosse encephalitis, which creates inflammation of the brain.

After spending nearly a week fighting for his life in the hospital, Noah is back home with his parents and siblings.

"There was so many times it went through my mind, not knowing if he was going to make it," Surrett said.

It started on a recent Saturday when Noah began crying over a headache as the family headed over to see his grandparents. Surrett said she gave her son some pain medication, which seemed to help. Noah and his older brothers stayed overnight with their grandparents, but he still complained of a headache when his mother checked in the next morning.

Then Surrett said she got "the scariest call of my life," when her mother-in-law called shortly later to say Noah was "not acting right" and had become non-responsive. Her in-laws then hung up to call 911.

"Noah's lips were blue, eyes fixed looking up and was completely limp he had a seizure," Surrett recalled in a lengthy Facebook post that described the experience.

"I panicked and everyone else did they carried him to the ambulance and checked his temperature it was 102.3 they thought it may have been a febryl seizure," she wrote. "They started iv fluids and got him stable we left for mission, in the way there he had another seizure and almost a 3rd when they gave him a medicine to knock the seizure away."

A spinal tap at the hospital revealed Noah had La Crosse encephalitis, which made his brain swell with fluids, causing the headaches the boy had complained about a day earlier.

Noah slept for the next few days, becoming responsive only when his pain medication wore off.

"I am a mother of 5 boys and I am a firm believer in bug spray and all that 2 keep the bugs away and it still happened to my little man," Surrett wrote. "Noah is a spunky little dude that sickness never brings him down so this is breaking all of our hearts."

Surrett told NBC News she worried her son's condition would never improve.

"Then all of a sudden, at 3 o'clock that day, he just sat up in bed and started talking to me," she said. "It was just mind-blowing how much — just in a matter of minutes it's like he'd come to life."

Surrett said her son is happy to be home but the transition has been difficult.

"It's been very hard, especially at nighttime," she said. "He wakes up and he cries having nightmares."

Surrett now wants to prevent other families from going through the same ordeal. Although doctors had told her the virus-carrying mosquitos were common in their area, she had never been warned of them before.

"Please be cautious as this was something I thought I had prevented happening," she warned on Facebook. "I dont want to see another baby go through this, they said it's like meningitis so they are treating it the same way. Use big spray on your kids check for bites, it's not 100% preventable obviously but do what you can to try."

An average of 70 cases of La Crosse encephalitis are reported each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most severe cases occur in children younger than 16.

Experts say bug spray is one of the best ways to prevent mosquito bites, even though Surrett said Noah was wearing it. Other preventative methods include wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts and removing standing water in containers outside the home.

Mom warns of mosquito danger after son's hospital scare© LoriAnne Jenkins Surrett/Facebook Mom warns of mosquito danger after son's hospital scare

 



All Press Releases for June 26, 2018

Mosquitoes Got You Bugged?

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Travelers and Staycationers planning to relax in warm destinations now have a natural, eco-friendly and effective solution to help protect them from mosquito bites following the launch of a natural indoor mosquito repellent plugin collection.

 

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA, June 26, 2018 - Topical repellents had been the most popular option for preventing mosquito bites while indoors. But the problem is that many of these products leave a wet sticky mess, contain harmful, skin irritating ingredients like DEET and they wear off within a few hours. Even more so, users still have to contend with these insects in their indoor space. Furthermore, with statistics indicating that vector borne diseases have tripled since 2004, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is imploring Americans to take greater precaution to prevent these diseases.

 

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Bugban Plugins is the only EPA Established Company that develops indoor mosquito repellent solutions that are as kind to humans as they are to the environment. The product is the brainchild of avid traveler, Connie O'Grady, who developed the idea while on her own tropical vacation. "While on vacation, we left hotel windows and doors open to take in the serene view and feel the cool refreshing breeze. Unfortunately, this meant mosquitoes would enter the living space. And mosquito borne illnesses like Dengue, Zika, or West Nile can wreak havoc on a vacation, as it did with mine when I contracted Dengue. This made me want to travel Smarter, and BugBan Plugins were borne!" O'Grady said.

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Yellow fever threatens South Florida after Zika scare

BY: Larry Barszewski -May 6, 2018

© AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

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There hasn't been a yellow fever outbreak in the United States in more than 100 years, but state health officials are concerned that a large outbreak in Brazil and others in South and Central America could lead to infected travelers bringing the disease to South Florida, which has the right mosquitoes and climate for it to spread.

The disease is deadlier than the Zika virus. Zika raised alarms because many infected pregnant women gave birth to infants having microcephaly, a condition that causes abnormally small heads and developmental defects. Yellow fever can kill. Brazil reported 1,131 cases and 338 deaths attributable to yellow fever from July to March.

Most people infected with yellow fever will get symptoms so minor they won't realize they have been infected. Even for those who do notice, the symptoms such as fever, chills and headaches don't make it stand out from many other illnesses.

But for about 15 percent of the infected, the initial symptoms pass and then come back with a vengeance within a day, causing internal bleeding and jaundice — the yellowing of the skin that gives the fever its name — the failure of the liver and other organs. Of those, up to half die, usually within a week or two.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned travelers in March not to go to yellow fever hotspots in Brazil unless they were vaccinated.

South Florida officials hope the stepped-up mosquito control efforts already in effect to curb Zika will help contain any potential yellow fever outbreak. Yellow fever and Zika are carried by the same Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can also transmit dengue and chikungunya.

"If yellow fever is introduced into South Florida, and I suppose it will be, you're not going to see the same explosive outbreak we did with Zika," said Justin Stoler, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Miami who has done global health research with a focus on mosquito-borne illnesses. "There hasn't been prior exposure, but we've kept mosquito populations down, which is a good thing."

Broward County began its first truck spraying of the year April 30 to kill infant mosquitoes that are expected to multiply as the region's heavy rains increase, said Anh Ton, who oversees Broward's mosquito control.

South Florida's rainy season runs from May 15 to Oct. 15, according to the National Weather Service. The truck spraying is designed to kill mosquito larva in standing water, as opposed to aerial spraying that targets adult mosquitoes.

Aedes aegypti doesn't travel far from where it breeds. The mosquito, one of more than 40 types in South Florida, gravitates to urban areas and can breed in as little as a bottle cap full of standing water. It bites during the daytime and not just at dusk and dawn, officials said.

Yellow fever is a rare disease in the United States, with only one reported case between 2004 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Outbreaks killed thousands in Philadelphia in 1793, in Memphis, Tenn., in 1878 and in New Orleans throughout the 19th century, and in other places.

It wasn't until 1900 that the Yellow Fever Commission formed by the U.S. military proved that the disease was spread by mosquitoes, which led to practices such as fumigation and the covering of open water cisterns where the mosquitoes bred. The last U.S. outbreak occurred in New Orleans in 1905.

Most of the reported Zika cases came from travel abroad, especially in Brazil where there was a large outbreak, but local transmissions also surfaced in 2016: 287 cases in Miami-Dade, five in Palm Beach and one in Broward, according to the state health department.

The Zika virus is still out there. Although there is no vaccine for Zika, the number of cases has reduced significantly dramatically in the past two years as South Florida counties increased mosquito control and more people were protected because of previous exposure to the virus.

Florida recorded 1,469 Zika cases in 2016, with 298 infected locally. The state numbers dropped to 265 cases in 2017, with only two locally transmitted. There have only been 30 cases and no local transmissions so far this year.

South Florida is susceptible to such diseases not only because of its climate and mosquitoes, but also because it is a major hub attracting visitors from throughout the Americas for education, tourism, business and commerce, said Bindu S. Mayi, an associate professor of microbiology at Nova Southeastern University.

That's why a World Health Organization report in April identified Miami as one of the global cities susceptible to the spread of yellow fever because the United States doesn't require people arriving from abroad to be vaccinated against the disease. Infected travelers arriving in South Florida could be bitten by mosquitoes here, which could then spread the disease through bites to other people.

"It was inevitable we would get these diseases," Mayi said. "It's remarkable how well we responded."

The proliferation of a disease can be worse if it is new to an area, because there is no natural immunity, she said.

"These flare-ups happen, especially when you have a large chunk of population that has never seen this virus," Mayi said. "There is nothing initially stopping the body from hosting the virus."

Most people in the U.S. haven't been vaccinated for yellow fever because the disease is so uncommon. With the recent Brazil outbreak and efforts there to vaccinate large portions of the population, the available supply in the U.S. is limited and the sole U.S. manufacturer doesn't expect to have more available until year-end.

The vaccine is recommended for people traveling to areas known to have yellow fever. It is not recommended for everyone. The vaccine could cause worse problems for infants under 9 months old, adults older than 60 and people with compromised immune systems.

A factor that could limit South Florida's exposure to yellow fever from travelers is the size of the outbreak in Brazil. The number of cases there in recent years has been a few thousand, while Zika infected hundreds of thousands there. That means there's a much smaller pool of people with the potential for bringing the virus to the U.S., said Larry Bush, an affiliate professor of clinical biomedical sciences at Florida Atlantic University.

Dr. Lyle Petersen, the CDC's director of diseases transmitted through insect bites, also said there was low risk of a yellow fever outbreak in Florida.

"We learned with Zika, thousands of people came to the United States with Zika virus which is carried by the same mosquito — the Aedes aegypti mosquito — and only saw very limited transmission down in parts of southern Texas and in the Miami area," Petersen said in a March teleconference.

That's still not a guarantee against the disease.

"The fact that the (Aedes aegypti) mosquito is widespread in the country, all you need is a person infected with the virus to be the source of the virus," Bush said. "Mosquito control and mosquito bite prevention with repellent is really crucial. We can't overdo it."


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Tick- and mosquito-borne diseases more than triple, since 2004, in the US

 

 

 

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A new report from the agency reveals that diseases transmitted through the bites of blood-feeding ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas are a "growing public health problem" in the United States.
Reported cases of what are called vector-borne diseases have more than tripled nationwide, growing from 27,388 cases reported in 2004 to a whopping 96,075 cases reported in 2016, according to the new Vital Signs report published by the CDC on Tuesday.
Vector-borne diseases are illnesses that are transmitted by vectors, or blood-feeding ticks and insects capable of transmitting pathogens -- bacteria, viruses, or parasites -- from one host to another. Pathogens, transmitted through a vector's bite, cause illness. These include Lyme disease, West Nile virus and Zika virus, to name a few.
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"It's very important that the public is very aware that these are more than summertime nuisances -- you can get very severe diseases from ticks and mosquitoes," said Dr. Lyle Petersen, an author of the report and director of the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, who actually had West Nile virus himself from a mosquito bite in 2003.
"I was sick at home in bed for more than a week with severe headaches and fever and skin rash and just feeling horrible," he said about his illness. "Then after that, it took me about three months to get back to normal. It was definitely something that ruined my summer."
Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases, causing more than 700,000 deaths annually across the globe, according to the World Health Organization.
Now the new CDC report sheds light on just how much these diseases are growing in the US.

'We don't know what will threaten Americans next'

The new report, based on data from the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System each year between 2004 and 2016, identified 16 different diseases: Lyme disease, anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis, spotted fever rickettsiosis, babesiosis, tularemia, Powassan virus, Dengue viruses, Zika virus, West Nile virus, malaria, chikungunya virus, California serogroup viruses, St. Louis encephalitis virus, Eastern equine encephalitis virus, yellow fever virus, and plague.
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In all, 642,602 cases of vector-borne diseases were reported during that time period, the researchers found.
Tick-borne illnesses, which accounted for more than 75% of all vector-borne disease reports, grew from 22,527 cases in 2004 to 48,610 cases reported in 2016, the researchers found.
Lyme disease accounted for 82% of the cumulative reported tick-borne diseases, according to the data.
The report identified a steady rise and spread of tick-borne diseases, whereas the occurrence of mosquito-borne diseases was dispersed and more punctuated by epidemics.
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The number of mosquito-borne diseases rose from 4,858 in 2004 to 47,461 in 2016, the researchers found. A big jump in those cases occurred in 2016, when 41,680 Zika virus cases were reported.
West Nile virus was the most commonly transmitted mosquito-borne disease in the continental US, with its most notable epidemic occurring in 2012, especially in Texas.
Though rare, plague was the most common flea-borne disease included in the data. Endemic plague, transmitted mostly in the rural southwestern US, did not exceed 17 cases in a year.
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The report noted that, since 2004, there have been nine vector-borne pathogens newly identified as concerns among humans in the US: the tick-borne viruses Heartland and Bourbon; Lyme disease-causing Borrelia miyamotoi and Borrelia mayonii bacteria; two new tick-borne spotted fever species, Rickettsia parkeriand Rickettsia 364D; a newly recognized tick-borne Ehrlichia species; and the mosquito-borne viruses chikungunya and Zika.
"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 US in recent years, making a lot of people sick. And we don't know what will threaten Americans next," CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement.

Why vector-borne disease cases are climbing

There are several factors that could explain why there has been an increase in vector-borne diseases across the country and those factors somewhat differ for tick- versus mosquito-borne illnesses, Petersen said.
Factors driving some tick-borne diseases include people moving into forested areas where disease-carrying ticks reside, as well as rising temperatures that allow ticks to migrate farther north and that extend the tick season.
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"It's a perfect storm where you've got this huge increase in ticks and people exposed to those ticks and then you have a giant Lyme disease problem, and compounding that is that in recent years, we've had some warmer temperatures," Petersen said.
"For the mosquito-borne diseases, like West Nile, Zika, and chikungunya for example, one of the big problems is that people and goods are moving around the planet at ever-increasing rates and speed, and so basically any of these mosquito-borne diseases can be transmitted almost anywhere in the world in the matter of a day," he said. "Because of this increase in travel and trade, we have just an accelerating trend towards the importation of exotic mosquito-borne diseases."
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The study had some limitations, including that the only vector-borne disease cases included in the data were those reported to public health authorities, so the number of cases could be substantially under-reported.
Also, not all of the diseases included in the data were reportable for all American states and territories during the time period between 2004 and 2016. For instance, the report noted that babesiosis data were only available starting in 2011 from some states.
All-Natural Mosquito Control, Best Mosquito Repellent, No DEET, Zika, Malaria, West Nile, Yellow FeverWhat you need to know about ticks
Since the new report sheds light on how a small percentage of ticks and mosquitoes in the US carry pathogens, people who are frequently outdoors should use repellents and remember to inspect their bodies for ticks, said Dr. David Sullivan, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who was not involved in the report but has studied malaria and other infectious diseases.
He added that people are more likely to encounter mosquito-borne diseases while traveling to other countries.
"Vector-borne diseases are fueled by changes in the ecology of microbial pathogen, reservoir hosts, local and global climate change as well as changes in human host susceptibility or travel patterns," Sullivan said.

'It shows us how vulnerable we are'

Dr. Myron Cohen, professor and director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, called the new report "really important."
Cohen, who was not involved in the report went on to offer more ideas about Lyme disease and Zika infection, which have attracted great attention in the US.
Between 2004 and 2016, there was improved surveillance, lab-testing, and public awareness of Lyme disease, possibly contributing to its apparent rise in prevalence, Cohen said. Still in general, the CDC estimates Lyme disease cases are vastly larger than what is reported.
On the other hand, Zika hit the US with a high number of cases in 2016 since the general public was not as familiar with the virus in prior years, he said.
"Zika shows us the potential for an emerging pathogen that's vector-borne to enter a population -- like as it did in Puerto Rico and some of the other territories and a little bit in Florida -- and kind of sweep through the population," Cohen said.
"So it shows how vulnerable we are if the vectors are there in sufficient concentration, and we have not seen the disease before in the population, it can be a fairly profound epidemic," he said

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Miami among cities at risk from yellow fever spread : study

 Reuters Staff

GENEVA (Reuters) - Miami is at risk of a deadly yellow fever outbreak because the disease could thrive there but the city has no checks on travelers arriving from endemic zones, a study to be published by the World Health Organization showed.

FILE PHOTO: The downtown skyline of Miami, Florida is seen on Nov 5, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo

Yellow fever is spread by the same mosquito that causes Zika virus, which spread through the Americas after being detected in Brazil in 2015 and has been reported in southern Florida and southern Texas.

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control advises that yellow fever is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America, and is a very rare cause of illness in U.S. travelers.

But the study, “International travel and the urban spread of yellow fever”, showed that almost 2.8 million people flew to the United States from endemic yellow fever areas in 2016.

Unlike some countries, the United States does not require travelers from such places to show proof of yellow fever vaccination.

“At a time when global yellow fever vaccine supplies are diminished, an epidemic in a densely populated city could have substantial health and economic consequences,” the researchers based in Canada, the United States and Britain wrote in the study.

Around 9.5 million people live in U.S. urban areas such as Miami that are ecologically suitable for an outbreak, they wrote in the study, issued online ahead of its publication in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

They said climate change, mobility, urbanization and a vaccine shortage had increased the risk of yellow fever globally and they called for a review of vaccination policies.

The study found 472 cities suitable for an outbreak in 54 countries, but many, such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Karachi, Manila and Guangzhou, required vaccination certificates on arrival from endemic countries.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said the need for vaccination certificates was at each country’s discretion.

The researchers said a substantial proportion of the world’s yellow fever vaccine stocks had been used up by recent epidemics in Africa and Brazil, and further depleted by manufacturing difficulties. Preventive campaigns could cause shortages.

“Should another urban epidemic occur in the near future, vaccine demand could easily exceed the available supply,” they said.

Yellow fever, which can be hard to diagnose, causes symptoms including muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, and about 15 percent of cases lead to a more toxic phase within 24 hours, potentially experiencing jaundice, abdominal pain, deteriorating kidney function and bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes or stomach.

 Half of severe sufferers die within a week or two, but the rest recover without significant organ damage, according to WHO.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Hugh Lawson

APRIL 18, 2018

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