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Fairfax, Va. (April 4, 2014) - The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) applauds the World Health Organization (WHO) for bringing attention to the dangers of vector-borne diseases on World Health Day, a designation highlighting public health problems around the world. Although the majority of vector-borne, or animal-transmitted, diseases are more prevalent outside the U.S., Americans are at risk from several mosquito and tick-borne illnesses.
"World Health Day is an excellent reminder that vector-borne diseases such as, West Nile virus and Lyme disease remain a serious health problem in the U.S.," advised Dr. Jorge Parada, infectious disease specialist and medical advisor for the NPMA. "The medical community has also been seeing sporadic cases of vector-borne diseases typically found in countries outside the U.S., which calls for greater awareness among the American public when traveling and spending time outdoors."
As mosquito and tick activity increases this season, the NPMA reminds the public to take precaution. "Using insect repellents containing at least 20 percent DEET and covering up exposed skin while outdoors can help protect against mosquitoes and ticks," said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. "Eliminating harborage sites such as overgrown vegetation and sources of stagnant water around properties will also help reduce mosquito and tick populations."
"Vector-borne diseases infect more than one billion people and kill more than one million around the world each year. In addition to awareness and access to proper medical care, vector-control is one of the most important ways to minimize these devastating effects of mosquitoes, ticks and other disease-transmitting insects," said Dr. Marcos Espinal, Director, Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis, at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) "We encourage the public to protect themselves this spring and summer, whether here in the U.S. or when traveling abroad, because one tiny bite can be life-changing."
West Nile virus (WNV) and Lyme disease, two of the most common vector-borne diseases in the U.S. have seen an increase in prevalence in recent years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2013 there were 2,374 cases of WNV in the U.S., of which 114 were fatal. "WNV is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has fed on an infected bird. In most cases the virus results in a mild infection, however, in extreme cases, it can be a potentially life threatening infection with high fever, head and body aches, weakness, confusion and even coma," said Parada.
Lyme disease is transmitted by the blacklegged deer tick, and is estimated to affect approximately 300,000 Americans each year according to the CDC. "Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic bulls eye skin rash that shows up in many but not all cases," said Parada. "If left untreated, Lyme disease can also affect joints, the heart and the nervous system."
The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. For more information, visit PestWorld.org.