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Judita Juknele / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Marlene Cimons

German physician Alfred Buchwald had no clue that the chronic skin inflammation he described in 1883 was the first recorded case of a serious tick-carrying disease, one that would take hold in a small Connecticut town almost a century later and go on to afflict people across the U.S.

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An Aedes albopictus female mosquito obtaining a blood meal from a human host. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library

By Joyce Sakamoto and Shelley Whitehead

Cases of vector-borne disease have more than doubled in the U.S. since 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported, with mosquitoes and ticks bearing most of the blame.

Mosquitoes, long spreaders of malaria and yellow fever, have more recently spread dengue, Zika and Chikungunya viruses, and caused epidemic outbreaks, mainly in U.S. territories. The insects are also largely responsible for making West Nile virus endemic in the continental U.S.

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Aedes aegypti mosquito obtaining a blood-meal. Public Health Image Library

The number of diseases transmitted by mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled in the U.S. from 2004 through 2016, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

More than 640,000 cases were reported during those 13 years. There were more than 96,000 cases in 2016, a massive jump from the 27,000 cases in 2004.

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Black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks) feed exclusively on blood. tobyjug5 / Flickr

By Clara Chaisson

In the summer of 2013, I was changing into pajamas when an irritated blotch of skin caught my eye. My rib cage looked like a miniature advertisement for Target: There was a near-perfect circle of red, a smaller, concentric ring of clear skin, and then a red dot right in the middle. Bull's-eye.

In medical jargon this distinctive rash is called erythema migrans, and it's the calling card of Lyme disease. Fittingly enough, I was spending this particular peak tick season in Old Lyme, Connecticut—where it was first discovered in 1975. Luckily, I knew to be on the lookout for this exact symptom, and a course of antibiotics knocked it out of my system. I experienced no further problems.

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iStock

Climate change is already making people sicker, according to a deep-dive written by Renee Cho for Columbia University's Earth Institute on Monday.

Cho pointed to the example of doctors in Florida who are noticing that their patients run through prescriptions faster as conditions like asthma worsen due to heat waves.

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