Deadly Tick-Borne Powassan Virus Surfaces In NY State, Kills 30% Of Those Infected
A Saratoga County Resident Is Recovering From A Rare But Emerging Illness Carried By Deer Ticks That Transmit Lyme Disease, According To A County Health Official.
While extremely rare, Powassan virus is deadlier than other tick-borne illnesses — killing 30% of those infected statewide since 2004 — and its victims are infected much more quickly. “With Lyme disease, once you find the tick on you, you’ve got a day or so to remove it, before it can transmit the pathogen to you,” said Richard Ostfeld, disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook. “But with Powassan virus, a tick can start transmitting the virus within 15 minutes.
Unlike Lyme disease, there’s no treatment for Powassan virus; doctors can address symptoms only. The virus can cause central nervous system malfunction, meningitis and encephalitis — brain swelling. Disease experts counsel prevention as the best defense: Cover up, especially when going into wet, wooded areas. Use insect repellent. Check for ticks after being outdoors, and remove them immediately.
Only 15 cases of Powassan virus have been discovered statewide in the last nine years, said Laura D. Kramer, director of the state Health Department’s Arbovirus Laboratories in Slingerlands. But that compares to less than one case a year in a previous 40-year period. “It’s a rare disease, there’s no question about it,” Kramer said. “But it appears to be increasing in prevalence in the ticks, and therefore poses a threat to humans.”
National Post: Deadly tick–borne Powassan virus surfaces in New York state, kills 30% of those infected. Posted on August 2, 2013 by Canlyme.