Bites from mosquitoes, fleas, ticks transmit more diseases than ever

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The number of diseases people caught from mosquitoes nearly doubled from 2015 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A study by the CDC found that mosquitoes, tick, and flea bites created more than 640,000 cases of disease in the 13 years from 2004 to 2016. Nine new diseases from those bites were discovered in the United States in the same time frame.

"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.

The Mid-South is no stranger to mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. As the weather continues to warm, people like Martha Crocker are spending more time outdoors.

"I'm highly concerned about the mosquitoes," Crocker said. "I was out yesterday morning in a shady area. If you're in the sun the mosquitoes don't really bother you, but if you get in a shady area that's where they are."

Most mosquito bites don't result in illnesses, but CDC found that the number of illnesses from the bites has increased significantly since 2004.

Dr. Jeff Mullins with Methodist Medical Group said the biggest problem with insect-borne illnesses is that most are viral.

"We really don't have anything but conservative treatment, so if you get really sick with them and they put you into the hospital, they can't give you a miracle drug to treat the virus. They just have to treat the symptoms," Mullins said.

Mullins advises anyone spending time outside to stay away from standing water and use insect repellent.

If that doesn't work, another option is having pest control technicians spray your yard. Companies, like Mosquito Joe, can come out to your home and treat areas that pests enjoy, which hopefully will keep them at bay.

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