Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

It's getting "tickier"

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The spread of ticks in the U.S. — and a rise in cases of the diseases they carry — is putting the tiny tick in the sights of Congress and spurring calls for better tools to track and control them.

Why it matters: Ticks spread bacteria that cause Lyme disease and more than a dozen other pathogens. Nearly 43,000 confirmed and probable cases of Lyme disease were reported in the U.S. in 2017 — triple the number in the late 1990s — but the CDC suspects the actual number of cases each year could be about 300,000.

CDC seeks cause of polio-like illness, urges quick reporting

Intense effort is underway to understand and prevent acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the agency pushes doctors to report symptoms early, per its new Vital Signs report.

Why it matters: Doctors continue to seek the cause of the serious neurologic syndrome after the largest recorded outbreak in 2018 — 233 patients in 41 states reported symptoms that often included limb weakness or paralysis. The CDC has expressed frustration in determining the source of the illness, as some but not all patients show evidence of enteroviruses, which are spread through the nervous system, in their bodies.