As the cases related to tick-borne powassan virus is on the rise in the US, people should know how it is caused along with some control measures.
Please note that Powassan Virus is mainly spread due to the bite of an infected tick, as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The powassan virus is generally rare but it really becomes deadly once an infected person tends to develop serious illness.
In most of the cass, it has been found that death rate is 10% among those who develop serious complication due to the bite of an infected tick carrying this virus.
If you look at the latest update, as many as 2 cases have been two fatalities in Maine and Connecticut this year.
And so, an increased number of people are getting infected due to the infected ticks. As per CDC, over 75% cases have been documented so far in the current year.
Those infected with less severe illness tend to develop long term complication including memory issues and headaches. Before we move ahead, let’s take a look about Powassan virus.
What Is Powassan Virus?
Powassan virus is basically an arbovirus which is actually a part of a group of viral infections transmitted by arthopods (insects).
It’s also known as Flavivirus which is transmitted due to the bite of ticks mainly found in the Russian Far East and North America.
The virus is named after the well known town Powassan, Ontario, where it was first identified. The virus is known to cause encephalitis, which is an infection of the brain.
The sad part about Powassan virus is that no approved vaccine is available to combat the attack of this type of virus. However, the best precaution to keep the virus at bay is to stay away from the bites of ticks.
Powassan Virus Cases
Most of the cases related to Powassan virus has been found in the regions like northeast and the Great Lakes, especially during mid-autumn and late spring when blacklegged and Woodchuck or deer ticks carrying the virus remains most active.
Infection due to this virus is not only limited to the above regions but also have been found in places like Canada.
As per a senior scientist, most people who are infected with Powassan virus are fully recover without getting any symptoms.
But in some cases, an infected person starts developing a bad flu like illness within 1 to 4 weeks.
Among those who are highly susceptible to infection are elderly people who are often immunocompromised.
Powassan Virus Symptoms
Powassan virus symptoms are quite different than Lyme disease that generally spreads through bacteria.
There is no rash found associated with an infection due to Powassan virus as it is found in Lyme disease.
Some of the initial symptoms include weakness, vomiting, headache, and fever. Some people who develop infection lately also don’t show any symptoms.
In severe infection cases, symptoms can be seizures, difficulty speaking, of coordination, and a state of confusion.
Please also note that severe form of infection can also lead to some other issues like meningitis (brain infection), encephalitis or infection of spinal cord or brain.
The incubation period after the bite of ticks carrying the virus can be up to one month.
As there are no treatment options available, patients with severe illness have no option but to get hospitalized for breathing support and reduce brain swelling, as per CDC.
People who pass their most of the time in wooded areas are at highest risk mainly due to their greater exposure to ticks.
It’s also known that domestic animals like cats and dogs which can pick up ticks generally increase the chances of exposure.
As per CDC, “If you don’t get ticks on you, you don’t have to worry about Powassan or other tick disease,” Pastula says. “If you get tics on you, get them off before they attach.” it said.
Due to the fact that tick are found attached to high grass areas, it’s better to avoid such areas. If there is a need to do so, it is advisable to wear long sleeves shirts and long pants.
Both the CDC and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) websites list insect repellents that are effective against ticks.
In the same ways, people can also use permethrin which is an insecticide for fabric. Among several precaution measures, checking of ticks after being outdoors can be a great preventive measure.
It’s because ticks are mostly found attracted to warm areas like the band around the tops of socks and waistbands.
If you are keen to know more information how to remove ticks, you can simply visit the CDC website.