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CDC report shows spike in mosquito, tick and flea-borne diseases

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

A new warning from the CDC states diseases spread by ticks, mosquitoes and fleas are increasing.

The new CDC study shows the number of mosquito, tick and flea-borne diseases has more than tripled nationwide between 2004 and 2016.

"There's a couple of reasons for that. one is that we actually have had some new diseases introduced into the United States. So we have West Nile, Zika, chikungunya," Tulane Professor Dawn Wesson said.

Wesson said another reason is because doctors are able to diagnose more of these diseases.

"There's actually about seven or so new tick-borne pathogens that have been discovered in the meantime. So they were there before, or they may have been introduced, but we just didn't know they were in the U.S," Wesson said.

"We have better ways of finding the viruses, the bacteria, with the progress with the level of laboratory techniques," State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard said.

Ratard and Wesson agree that other reasons for the increase could be that more people are traveling, warmer temperatures, or more people are spending time outside.

"A lot of the changes, the minor changes that we see in the weather, and in the way we look at the population, we're getting closer to the nature, and so more exposure to mosquitoes and to ticks," Ratard said.

Dr. Ratard said from 2001 to 2016, 99 people died from West Nile Virus and encephalitis.

"The thing to remember is to wear your repellent, but also to remember West Nile is really the most common mosquito-borne virus we have here and the one we need to be most afraid of," Wesson said.

Experts say everyone should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites by wearing insect repellent and long sleeves, as well as getting rid of standing water around your home, which can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

To protect yourself from ticks, the CDC recommends wearing boots, pants and using tents when camping, and taking steps to control ticks on your pets.

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