The Powassan virus is a virus that is spread from ticks to humans when an infected tick bites a human. This is a rare virus since only 75 people reported having it in the United States in the last decade. However, the numbers of affected people may soon rise because the deer tick can now spread this disease, in addition to Lyme disease. The Powassan virus actually spreads a lot faster in comparison to Lyme disease and it may even prove fatal to certain groups of people.
Ticks that have this virus are typically located in forest areas such as the Northeast and Great Lakes. The chances of getting bitten by an infected tick are much higher during the summer, middle of fall and the end of spring.
Some of the symptoms of this virus include weakness, headaches, seizures, fever, problems with memory, issues walking or even speaking etc. It can even cause brain tissue to become inflamed which would lead to a condition known as encephalitis. Unfortunately, 1 out of 10 persons die from this disease and people who survive have reported long term effects such as memory issues, headaches as well as a loss of strength and muscle.
There is no specific treatment for this virus and doctors typically treat the symptoms. This is done by providing fluids through IV, breathing support as well as giving medicine to reduce inflammation and swelling in the brain.
Persons who are most at risk of getting this virus are those who live, work or spend a lot of time in wooded or forest areas. Most people who do end up getting infected are usually from the Great Lakes or Northeastern parts of the U.S. So, when it comes to prevention, it is best to stay out of these areas as much as possible. If this can't be avoided, them make sure to spray insect repellent which contains DEET regularly and check for ticks. Once out of the woods, thoroughly check every part of the body, including the scalp for ticks as well as any pets, clothes etc.
To wrap things up, the Powassan virus is a relatively rare virus but that doesn't mean the risk of getting it isn't real, especially while spending time in the outdoors. So, make sure to take the necessary precautions as well as contact a local health provider or hospital if any of the above symptoms occur after being in high risk areas.
Serenity Health Care Center
1708 Paramount Court, Waukesha, WI 53186
Monday 8am–4:30pm, Tuesday 10am–7pm, Wednesday 8am–4:30pm, Thursday 8am–4:30pm, Friday 8am–4:30pm