Wake-up call for vector-borne diseases that are on the uptick

From the American Medical Association
June 12, 2019

Diseases from mosquito and tick bites occur in every U.S. state and territory. The growing incidence of Lyme disease and recent outbreaks of Zika virus and chikungunya point to the need for comprehensive vector-borne disease (VBD) programs. Physicians, health care teams and patients should be much more aware of VBDs, says an AMA Council on Science and Public Health report whose recommendations were adopted at the 2019 AMA Annual Meeting in Chicago. 

Sixteen VBDs “are reportable to state and territorial health departments and the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System,” says the council report. “The most common VBDs in the United States are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, West Nile virus, dengue and Zika virus disease. As a group, VBDs in the United States are notable for their wide distribution and resistance to control.” 

Vector-control programs vary by jurisdiction, placing responsibilities on the local health department, mosquito control district or other local agencies. As a result, there are differing capabilities across the country.  

“Our country currently has limited capacity to properly control mosquitoes, ticks and other sources of vector-borne disease that are causing more and more people to become ill. In fact, approximately 80 percent of vector-control organizations lack the resources they need to prevent and control vector-borne diseases,” said AMA Board Member E. Scott Ferguson, MD.  

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