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Those living in the northeast United States probably don’t need to be reminded that disease-carrying ticks are abundant in their region. But the rate of tick-borne and insect-borne diseases have been increasing for the past couple of decades, and these rates will continue to increase in the future. This is especially true when it comes to lyme disease cases in Massachusetts, but mosquitoes and ticks pose a threat to residents as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the amount of diseases spread by ticks, mosquitoes and fleas has more than tripled in the US since 2004. The diseases that are increasing the most include Zika, West Nile, lyme, and chikungunya. Diseases spread by ticks, such as lyme and rocky mountain spotted fever, pose a threat to outdoors, and this is largely the case for mosquito-borne diseases as well, but flea-borne diseases are also increasing in every location in the US. Massachusetts residents must take precautions to protect against growing tick populations, particularly the lone star tick, which was recently introduced into the state.

Officials with the CDC claim that diseased tick populations are increasing to the point where residents can expect every deer tick they encounter to have a 50 percent chance of carrying a disease that is transmittable to humans. Deer ticks, or black-legged ticks, are the most threatening ticks in Massachusetts from a public health perspective, but there is no saying how large non-native lone star tick populations will become in the state. Experts estimate the the amount of lyme disease cases that occur each year in Massachusetts will soon surpass 90,000. The black-legged tick not only carries lyme disease, but they carry four other diseases as well, including babesiosis and anaplasmosis, which are the two most common tick-borne diseases in Massachusetts after lyme disease. The CDC is also warning Massachusetts residents about the increasing cases of mosquito-borne disease in the state, particularly West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis. It is important that residents check their dogs for ticks before letting them indoors and to apply DEET repellent before spending time outdoors.

Do you apply insect repellent before spending time outdoors?