Diseases from mosquito and tick bites occur in every state and territory.
Recent outbreaks of Zika, chikungunya, and West Nile viruses and the steady increase in Lyme disease cases point to the need for state and local agencies to have comprehensive vector-borne disease prevention and control programs.
The pace of emergence of new or obscure vectorborne pathogens through introduction or belated recognition appears to be increasing. Since 2004, these have included two previously unknown, life-threatening tickborne RNA viruses, Heartland (5) and Bourbon (6), both reported from the U.S. Midwest. A tickborne relapsing fever agent, Borrelia miyamotoi, first described in Japan, has been found widely distributed in the United States (7) and another bacterial spirochete, Borrelia mayonii (8) was discovered in the upper U.S. Midwest. Two tickborne spotted fever Rickettsiae, R. parkeri (9) and Rickettsia species 364D (10), and a tickborne Ehrlichia (E. muris eauclairensis) (11) were discovered to be pathogenic to humans. The mosquitoborne viruses chikungunya and Zika were introduced to Puerto Rico in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
In the face of increasing incidence and threat from novel pathogens, the burden on local and state public health departments has increased. Critical to effectively preventing or responding to disease outbreaks is sensitive disease and vector surveillance, backed by well-organized, well-prepared, and sustained vector control operations. Good surveillance and reporting depend on rapid, accurate diagnostic confirmation; more sensitive and specific tests that can be used locally are needed.
The Federal government is taking steps including: funding states, territories, industry, university, and international groups to detect and respond to infections from mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas and report cases to the CDC; conducting and developing diagnostic tests, vaccines, and treatments; educating the public about protecting themselves; supporting 5 regional centers of excellence to address emerging diseases from mosquitos and ticks; and, convening a tick-borne disease working group to improve federal coordination.