May 24, 2018

CDC Warning Echoes Parasite Council's Predictions About Vector-borne Disease

The CDC’s newly released data on Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis underscore the One Health nature of these diseases and the attention required from both human and veterinary health care professionals.
By Amanda Carrozza
Parasites CDC ReportThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning Americans of the significant diseases related to mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks that may affect people in the United States. Much like the Companion Animal Parasite Council’s (CAPC) forecast, the report's findings aren't encouraging—and provide further proof that these vector-borne diseases are a One Health issue.

“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,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD.

As detailed in the CDC’s Vital Signs report this month, 642,602 cases of human illnesses caused by ticks, fleas, or mosquitoes were reported between 2004 and 2016. The agency also noted the presence of 9 types of germs not previously found in the United States. Of these, 7 were tickborne. Moreover, the rate of reported diseases transmitted through ticks more than doubled over the 13-year period, accounting for more than 60% of all mosquito-, flea-, and tick-associated illnesses.

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"Our nation's first lines of defense are state and local health departments and vector [pathogen carrier] control organizations,” Dr. Redfield noted. “And we must continue to enhance our investment in their ability to fight against these diseases.”

The CDC also reported that the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the United States in 2016 were Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis. These data closely mirror CAPC’s prediction that non-endemic areas will start to see a rise in Lyme disease cases in 2018, including in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, southern Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, West Virginia, and the Appalachian region in Virginia. 

Additionally, the CAPC warned veterinarians that anaplasmosis prevalence is forecasted to be average for much of the country this year, except for Minnesota, which is expected to see a spike in activity. Ehrlichiosis prevalence is expected to be higher than normal in the southern Virginia and northern North Carolina regions, with normal prevalence elsewhere.

American Veterinarian® also reported on a recent retrospective study conducted by IDEXX researchers that found an association between dogs with positive Lyme disease or Ehrlichia test results and an increased risk for chronic kidney disease. The investigators found that dogs with 1 vector-borne disease had a 300% increased risk of developing kidney disease when Ehrlichia antibodies were present in dogs living in E canis–endemic areas, and a 43% increased risk of developing kidney disease when Borrelia antibodies were present.

This research, coupled with the CDC and CAPC reports, emphasize the importance of preventive compliance and regular screenings for pets.

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