Tick-borne powassan virus can kill. what is it, and how can you protect yourself?

Robert Weymouth, 58, of Portland, Maine, died this 12 months due to a tick chunk.

You have doubtless heard of Lyme illness and the issues it may well trigger when handed to a human by way of the chunk of a deer tick. However Lyme is not the one tick-borne sickness within the woods.

Powassan virus—a uncommon and untreatable an infection—can be transmitted by ticks. That is the chunk that led to deadly issues within the case of this Maine truck driver.

Weymouth—the third Powassan demise since 2015 in Maine and the primary this 12 months—doubtless contracted the virus within the state, in keeping with Maine’s Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. He developed and died within the hospital.

His widow, Annemarie Weymouth, is now warning others about defending themselves from the sickness.

“He was in there, however he could not transfer his physique. He may level to phrases on a board. He pointed to ‘scared,’ ‘afraid,’ ‘pissed off,'” Weymouth advised CBS Information.

True case numbers unknown

“As a result of it is comparatively uncommon to make the analysis, there’s quite a bit we do not know,” stated Dr. Eugene Shapiro, a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Yale College of Drugs.

However here is what is thought:

The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention acquired 189 studies of Powassan an infection between 2012 and 2021.

Most U.S. circumstances of Powassan virus occur within the Northeast and Nice Lakes areas. Maine had 4 circumstances final 12 months alone.

Although ticks are arachnids like spiders, the virus shouldn’t be so completely different from some viruses wherein a mosquito is the vector, akin to dengue and Zika. Apart from its transmission by a tick, Powassan virus is “under no circumstances, form or kind something like Lyme illness,” Shapiro stated.

Powassan virus is intently associated to one thing known as tick-borne encephalitis, which is a virus notably seen in Central Jap Europe and Eurasia, Shapiro stated.

The Powassan virus severely impacts solely a small variety of folks annually. But it surely’s attainable many others are asymptomatic or have minor or flu-like signs and are not identified.

The virus bought its title from its discovery in a 5-year-old boy who died of the virus within the late Fifties in Powassan, Ontario, Canada.

Specialists assume it was transmitted primarily by the groundhog tick, which usually didn’t feed on people. As an alternative, it fed totally on skunks, groundhogs and squirrels, Shapiro stated.

In some unspecified time in the future, it moved to deer ticks, and people are ticks that generally chunk people.

Mind irritation

There are nonetheless many mysteries to unravel regarding Powassan virus. For instance, though some analysis has recommended that as many as 5% of deer ticks in some areas of Connecticut are optimistic for the virus, that is not exhibiting up in excessive numbers of Powassan human an infection, Shapiro stated.

However circumstances are rising, in keeping with CDC numbers, stated Dr. Nicole Baumgarth, an immunologist at Johns Hopkins College of Public Well being. But it is not clear whether or not there are literally extra folks turning into contaminated or if medical doctors are testing for it extra continuously, she stated.

“There is no such thing as a remedy, aside from type of basic help of a person who has the illness,” Baumgarth stated. “Essentially the most critical sickness related to Powassan is irritation of the mind, or encephalitis, however not everyone who will get contaminated with this virus will develop these very extreme circumstances.”

Different signs can embody fever, chills, fatigue, rash on trunk of the physique, , nausea, vomiting, dizziness and neck stiffness, in keeping with Yale Drugs.

Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of these contaminated doubtless can have no signs or minor signs and never be identified.

For individuals who do have signs extreme sufficient to be identified, sometimes with encephalitis, the demise price is someplace between 10% and 30%, Shapiro stated.

Take into accout, nevertheless, it’s uncommon. “It’s a little scary, however it’s a ,” Baumgarth stated.

With Lyme illness, the tick needs to be connected for a couple of day or so to transmit its an infection. Pulling the tick off promptly places you at low threat of an infection. If it has been longer, a single dose of doxycycline is reasonably efficient in stopping an infection. Nevertheless, Baumgarth famous that the Powassan pathogen could be transmitted sooner than Lyme micro organism, “so it is laborious to outrun that.”

Prevention is one of the best treatment

You possibly can take some precautions to restrict tick publicity when spending time in grassy or wooded areas that may harbor ticks, Baumgarth and Shapiro stated.

  • Put on lengthy sleeves and lengthy pants, with the bottoms of the pants tucked inside socks.
  • Put on light-colored clothes in order that any ticks is likely to be seen. Take away them straight away.
  • Use an that has 30% DEET. One other repellent, permethrin, is supposed to be utilized to clothes.
  • After you come back from climbing, wash garments and place in a scorching dryer. If it is scorching sufficient, that may kill ticks.
  • Test your self for ticks after you come back, bathe instantly and have another person test in locations you possibly can’t see, if attainable.

Extra data:
The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention has extra on the Powassan virus.

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Tick-borne Powassan virus can kill. What’s it, and how are you going to defend your self? (2023, Could 25)
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