Deadly Tick Carrying Brain Swelling Virus Found in New York
As the Hudson Valley braces for a “tick explosion,” there are reports that a potentially deadly tick, one that took the life of a local teen in 2013, is resurfacing near the Hudson Valley.
The Powassan virus is spread by the same deer tick that carries Lyme disease. Powassan, which in some cases has been fatal, attacks the nervous system and can cause a dangerous brain swelling.
In recent years, the most reported cases of the Powassan virus have been in New York, Wisconsin and Minnesota, reports ABC. The virus has also recently been found in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
“Unfortunately, it is a disease that can often have pretty severe impact. People die as a result of Powassan infection,” Dr. Susan Paskewitz, the chair of the department of entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said to CBS News.
There is currently no treatment for the virus, which according to the CDC kills around 10% of people who become sick. Half are left with permanent neurological problems.
“You basically feel nonspecific flu-like stuff,” Dr. Jennifer Lyons, chief of the Division of Neurological Infections and Inflammatory Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston told CNN. “Maybe you have a little rash on your skin, but almost certainly, you’ll have a fever and the headache.”
Other symptoms can include, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures and memory loss.
According to CBS New York, in 2013, 17-year-old Joseph Elone, then a senior at Poughkeepsie High School, died after he contracted the Powassan virus from a tick
To decrease your risk of being infected with the Powassan virus the CDC recommends using tick repellents, wearing long sleeves and pants, avoiding bushy and wooded areas and doing thorough tick checks after spending time outdoors.
In the past decade the CDC reports around 75 cases of Powassan virus.
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