Local health departments prepare for mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -  The CDC says the number of diseases caused by mosquito, tick, and flea bites have tripled since 2004. As summer creeps upon us, many in North Alabama are looking forward to enjoying the outdoor activities the area offers.

Unfortunately, being exposed to nature can potentially be dangerous. "As we see the climate changing, you're going to have a lot of these insects moving around in areas where they haven't previously been," said Cheryl Clay of the Vector Control Division of the Madison Health Department.

Between 2004 and 2016, more than 640,000 cases of these diseases were reported.

More than 640,000 cases of Zika, Lyme, dengue, or plague disease were reported between 2004 to 2016. "You know there are several reasons why we've seen an increase in a lot of those illnesses," said Clay. More people are getting tested. Typically a lot of the symptoms are the same, kind of feels like you have the flu. If it's relatively mild, you're not going to seek medical attention."

Clay said they're doing everything in their power to help decrease these numbers. "We start our surveillance very early of the mosquito population. Again, we survey the areas where we know where they breed in the water."

Between mapping out and treating the biggest breeding areas, she says they're working with the state to hopefully provide more funding for surveillance. "We are still working with some funding we received from the CDC for the Zika virus to work on our mosquito surveillance. I know that the state continues to monitor the tick born illnesses."

Clay says it is hard to predict the spread of these illnesses, but they're continually preparing to attack them as they arrive.