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The Ticks and Mosquitoes Will Get You

Ah, summer beckons, and the warm weather means days on the beach, lounging on our yachts, and watching our pasty skin turn golden-hued (or beet red).

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though, warns us that the warm weather may be accompanied by dengue, Zika, and Lyme disease. According to the agency the number of people in the US who have been infected with diseases carried by mosquitoes, ticks, and flea bites have more than tripled in recent years. Since 2004, The New York Times says, at least nine such diseases have been discovered or newly introduced in the US.

Established infections such as Lyme disease are on the way up. At the same time newer tickborne diseases such as Heartland virus are showing up in the continental US. One culprit, according to a study in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is warmer weather, though the report's author, Lyle Petersen of the CDC, veered away from blaming climate change.

Petersen says that much of the increase in vector-borne diseases represents the arrival of Zika in 2015, as well as an increase in tickborne ailments. NBC News notes that more than 640,000 Americans were infected with vector-borne diseases between 2004 and 2016. In 2004, there were 27,388 such cases reported. By 2016, that number ballooned to more than 96,000.

West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-spread virus in the US, while Zika is now entrenched in Puerto Rico and has caused sporadic outbreaks in Texas and Florida.

Along with warmer weather, a lack of vaccines and increased jet travel has contributed to increased vector-borne diseases. The CDC also warns that state and local health authorities are not ready to deal with the situation.

If it makes you feel any better, a number of firms and researchers is developing diagnostics to more quickly and effectively detect these diseases, including Quidel, Oxford Immunotec, and Rheonix.

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