Insect Diseases
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​What is the link between insects and climate change?

The most common insects that transmit disease are mosquitos and ticks, and others include fleas, lice, mites, sandflies and black flies. Climate is one of the factors that influence the distribution of diseases by insects. Changes in temperature, precipitation, and humidity directly affect the spread of disease. Climate change can increase the occurrence of these diseases by changing weather patterns.

How can insect diseases affect our health?

Mosquitos can transmit a variety of diseases, including malaria, yellow fever and West Nile Virus (WNV). WNV is the most widely distributed insect disease in North America, covering almost all of the United States and Canada. Most WNV infected people do not show any symptoms. However, a small number of people develop fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, fatigue, and/or muscle weakness. Severe symptoms can include serious nervous-system illness such as meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissue), disorientation, coma, tremor, seizures or paralysis. WNV infection is tracked in British Columbia by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).

The most common tick-borne disease in North America is Lyme disease. However, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is the most common fatal tick-borne disease in North America. Typical symptoms of these two diseases are fever, headache, fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting, muscle pain, and characteristic bulls-eye rashes. Muscle and joint aches and swollen lymph nodes are also common. Untreated Lyme disease can last from months to years, and result in arthritis, issues with your nervous system and neurological problems. In 2014 there was one case of human Lyme disease detected within Interior Health, and 11 more across the rest of the province.

What is IH doing to help?

Our Communicable Disease Unit is responsible for the surveillance of reportable communicable diseases, including WNV and Lyme disease. We also provide information about insect-borne diseases, including how you can protect yourself from mosquitos and WNV, and ticks and Lyme disease on our website.

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