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Wed, Aug

CDC Warns of new Tick Threat – Called Powassan (POW) virus

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While Lyme diseases bad enough, the Northeast has a new potential threat that may require critical hospital care for respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain.

Powassan (POW) virus is transmitted to humans by infected ticks. Approximately 75 cases of POW virus disease were reported in the United States over the past 10 years. Most cases have occurred in the Northeast and Great Lakes region.

Signs and symptoms of infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. There is no specific treatment, but people with severe POW virus illnesses often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain.

You can reduce your risk of being infected with POW virus by using tick repellents, wearing long sleeves and pants, avoiding bushy and wooded areas, and doing thorough tick checks after spending time outdoors. If you think you or a family member may have POW virus disease, it is important to consult your healthcare provider.

Symptoms

  • Many people who become infected with Powassan (POW) virus do not develop any symptoms.

  • The incubation period (time from tick bite to onset of illness) ranges from about 1 week to 1 month.

  • POW virus can infect the central nervous system and cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).

  • Symptoms can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties, and seizures.

  • Approximately half of survivors have permanent neurological symptoms, such as recurrent headaches, muscle wasting and memory problems.

  • Approximately 10% of POW virus encephalitis cases are fatal.

Treatment

  • •There are no vaccines or medications to treat or prevent POW virus infection.

  • •If you think you or a family member may have POW virus disease, see your health care provider for evaluation and diagnosis.

  • •Persons with severe POW illnesses often need to be hospitalized. Treatment may include respiratory support, intravenous fluids, and medications to reduce swelling in the brain.

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