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    The Powassan Virus

    Could the Powassan Virus Be Worse Than Lyme Disease?

    With the month of May being Lyme Disease Awareness Month (#Lymediseaseawareness), and summer around the corner, we want to discuss a new tick-borne illness that has worried researchers. This new worry is the Powassan virus.

    scapularis-387181-1920.jpgThe Powassan virus in deer ticks is a much rarer pathogen than the bacterium that produces Lyme; but it can be deadly and works much quicker. The virus can cause neurological problems, permanent disability and even death. In fact, 50-60 percent of cases have led to disability and 10 percent have led to fatality. There have been approximately 75 reported cases to the Centers for Disease Control.


    Powassan can take effect in as little as 15 minutes compared to the Lyme bacterium which may take 24-48 hours.


    Anyone bitten by an infected tick can get it, said Dr. Jennifer Lyons, chief of the Division of Neurological Infections and Inflammatory Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

    "About 15% of patients who are infected and have symptoms are not going survive," said Lyons, who is also an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. "Of the survivors, at least 50% will have long-term neurological damage that is not going to resolve."

    Although new to us, the virus was first reported in 1958 in Ontario - a child was infected with an unexplained inflammation of the brain. It wasn't considered a big deal at the time because ticks weren't reportedly biting humans.

    As the chart shows below, the virus has been detected in the Northeastern region of the United States. In 2012, Connecticut reported 19% of deer ticks were infected with Lyme Disease and 29% infected with the Powassan virus.

    Symptoms of Powassan are similar to Lyme Disease. The problem is that Lyme has been misdiagnosed by heathcare providers because the illness contains flu-like symptoms such as:

    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Chills
    • Weakness
    • Loss of Memory/Confusion
    • Speech issues
    • Numbness

    The Powassan virus has no treatment at this time.

    The best thing people can do to avoid the Powassan virus is to avoid deer and tick bites at all costs. For this reason, the Trident Corp encourages homeowners to install a deer fence around their properties and asks outdoor enthusiasts to wear bright, long-sleeved clothing to easily detect ticks on the skin. Hikers, campers and walkers should also carry tick tweezers with them to safely (and quickly) remove a tick.

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