Illnesses from tick, mosquito and flea bites not a problem in San Antonio

Cropped Photo: Erturac / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

SAN ANTONIO - After the The Centers for Disease Control announced in a new report that the number of people getting sick from bug bites is spreading rapidly in the Valley and across the U.S., I checked to see if we were having any similar issues here in the San Antonio area.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports illnesses from tick, mosquito, and flea bites has more than tripled in recent years with 640,000 cases reported from 2004-2016. So I spoke on the phone to officials from the our Health District, and they said that they have not seen any increase in bug borne illnesses like the ones currently in the Valley.

In Edinburg, infections from mosquitoes, ticks and fleas have more than tripled since 2004 and at least nine diseases have been reported for the first time in the U.S.

The Valley's growth plays a big factor in the rise in bug-borne illnesses. Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Chief Administrator, Eddie Olivarez, said they have seen an increase in flea-related illnesses with one of the problems being the growing population of stray animals.

"We're urbanizing so fast, we're growing into areas that were considered rational areas in the past, so the opportunity for these types of situations is great,” said Olivarez.

CDC Director Robert Redfield and Director of the agency's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases Lyle Petersen issued a caution to citizens on Tuesday, noting the diseases can be widespread and difficult to control.

Redfield says a reason for the large increase is due to mosquitoes and ticks moving into new areas around the country in combination with more people traveling internationally. Increasing temperatures have also aided in longer seasons and more time for diseases to spread.

As communities continue to grow into rural areas, Redfield says more deer tend to migrate into the communities, bringing the parasites with them.

Keeping pests from infesting homes can be as simple as maintaining the grass at a reasonable level, which not only benefits the homeowners, but neighbors as well.

Pest control technicians added that homeowners must consistently monitor their yard as treatment products don’t last forever, but even simpler steps can be taken in your home by not leaving doors or screens open. Getting rid of areas of standing water where mosquitoes breed can also help fight against the risks of contracting a vector borne disease.

As far as pets are concerned, the best advice is getting them vaccinated and free of flees and ticks.

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