Tags: powassan | virus | deadly | tick | illness

Powassan Virus, Deadly Tick-Borne Illness, Is Spreading

Image: Powassan Virus, Deadly Tick-Borne Illness, Is Spreading
Deer ticks can carry both the Powassan virus and Lyme disease. (Melinda Fawver/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Thursday, 04 May 2017 05:58 AM

The rare Powassan virus, carried by certain types of ticks and causing neurological damage to half of survivors, may see more cases this season as tick populations increase due to warmer weather, experts say.

Seventy-five cases of Powassan were reported in the last 10 years in the northeastern U.S. and Great Lakes regions, and 10 percent to 15 percent of those cases were fatal, CNN Health reported. About half of those who survive have permanent neurological damage.

"It does seem that there are more and more deer that they're finding that have been infected with this virus," Dr. Jennifer Lyons, chief of the Division of Neurological Infections and Inflammatory Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston told CNN Health. "So we should expect it to increase in human disease incidence over the next few years."

Symptoms are flu-like and usually include a headache and fever, CNN said. Most people infected with Powassan never experience symptoms, but for those who do, symptoms typically appear a few days to a month after the bite. Some people will progress to more serious symptoms such as vomiting, weakness, seizures, and finally encephalitis or meningitis, which cause swelling of the brain or surrounding membranes.

There is no pharmaceutical treatment or cure for the Powassan virus, and no vaccine is available.

The virus was named after Powassan, Ontario, when it was discovered there in 1958.

Ticks jump from near ground level and attach to a person or animal as they walk by; they cannot fly, jump, or fall from trees. You can avoid ticks by using repellents on skin and clothing, wearing pants and long sleeves, and checking people and pets for ticks after spending time outside in grassy or wooded areas, the Minnesota Department of Health recommends. You can also keep your lawn mowed and garden weeded as well as removing dead leaves and brush.

One Twitter user wondered why ticks even exist, while others warned about their dangers.

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The rare Powassan virus, carried by certain types of ticks and causing neurological damage to half of survivors, may see more cases this season as tick populations increase due to warmer weather, experts say.
powassan, virus, deadly, tick, illness
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2017-58-04
Thursday, 04 May 2017 05:58 AM
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