Being aware of Lyme Disease is important as it is the most widespread tick-borne illness in the United States, but it is not the only thing you need to be aware of this tick season. The Powassan virus is making headlines from state health organizations as a tick-borne infection making its way across the Canadian border. Even though there have only been 75 reported cases in the United States in the last 10 years Powassan is still making health headlines.
Powassan is a virus similar to West Nile but it is transmitted by deer tick bites. Much is still unknown about Powassan, but it is speculated that time it takes for the viruses to transmit from a tick’s bite is much shorter than the amount of time it takes for Lyme to be transmitted; which is where much of the fear lies.
Symptoms of Powassan virus typically appear within 1-4 weeks of a tick bite, symptoms may include:
If a tick bite is suspected and symptoms arise contact your Doctor. Laboratory tests will be performed to confirm the diagnosis. As of now, there is no specific method of treatment for Powassan because of its rarity. Whereas with Lyme Disease, a course of antibiotics after a bite is suggested, but Powassan is a virus and antibiotics will have no effect.
How to protect against Powassan? Protect yourself the same way you would protect yourself from any tick-borne infection, by protect against tick bites. Using a repellent with DEET up to 30% is effective, wear lightly colored clothing to easily see if any ticks are on you, and tick checks. Tick checks will be your best defense, when a tick is embedded under 24hours the chances for transmission of infections is lower.