Is the Powassan virus a real threat?

The Powassan virus is a disease spread through the bites of ticks. The diseaseĀ is typically carried by a species of tick known as theĀ blacklegged tick which is also referred to as a “deer tick.” The good news is this disease is pretty rare. Only 100 cases have been reported in the last 10 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These cases were mostly reported in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions of the US, so there’s no real concern of an outbreak in the Southeast. However, it is always a good idea to know what you’re up against when it comes to sicknesses like these.

Side effects and treatment

The CDC lists the following as potential side effects of the illness:

  • fever
  • headache
  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • memory loss

According to the CDC, there is no specific treatment for Powassan virus, but infected individuals often require hospitalization where they can be monitored, given respiratory assistance, fluids, and medications to reduce the swelling of the brain. These treatment methods are only for severe cases of the virus.

How to prevent Powassan virus

Preventing the onset of the virus revolves around preventing a bite from an infected tick. If your family enjoys the outdoors, heed these tips, and if you do find a tick on yourself or a family member. It’s important to remove it as quickly as possible. Tick-borne illnesses spread through the saliva of the infected tick, and the longer the tick is attached, the more chance it has to spread a disease. For proper removal technique, see Tick Removal Tips.

  • If possible, keep grasses clipped short in your yard. Ticks like to live in the cover of these grasses, and they can easily latch on to a host when they’re traveling through the grass.
  • Wear an EPA approved insect repellent of DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon-eucalyptus.
  • Before going inside, check yourself, your family members and your pets for ticks. Check especially around your pets ears.
  • For more prevention tips, click here.

If you do happen to have a particularly bad infestation of ticks, call us. We’ll do everything we can to provide the best protection plan for your family!