Tick-Borne Powassan Virus Can Kill — How you can Shield Your self

By Cara Murez 

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Could 25, 2023 (HealthDay Information) – Robert Weymouth, 58, of Portland, Maine, died this yr due to a tick chunk.

You’ve got doubtless heard of Lyme illness and the issues it could actually trigger when handed to a human via the chunk of a deer tick. However Lyme isn’t 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 problems within the case of this Maine truck driver.

Weymouth — the third Powassan loss of life since 2015 in Maine and the primary this yr — doubtless contracted the virus within the state, in response to Maine’s Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. He developed neurological signs 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 instructed CBS Information.

True case numbers unknown

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

However this is what is understood:

The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention obtained 189 experiences 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 yr alone.

Although ticks are arachnids like spiders, the virus isn’t so totally different from some viruses through which a mosquito is the vector, resembling dengue and Zika. Apart from its transmission by a tick, Powassan virus is “on no account, form or type something like Lyme illness,” Shapiro mentioned.

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

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

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

Specialists suppose it was transmitted primarily by the groundhog tick, which generally didn’t feed on people. As a substitute, it fed totally on skunks, groundhogs and squirrels, Shapiro mentioned.

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 prompt that as many as 5% of deer ticks in some areas of Connecticut are optimistic for the virus, that’s not displaying up in excessive numbers of Powassan human an infection, Shapiro mentioned.

However circumstances are rising, in response to CDC numbers, mentioned Dr. Nicole Baumgarth, an immunologist at Johns Hopkins College of Public Well being. But it’s not clear whether or not there are literally extra individuals turning into contaminated or if docs are testing for it extra continuously, she mentioned.

“There isn’t any remedy, aside from type of basic help of a person who has the illness,” Baumgarth mentioned. “Essentially the most severe sickness related to Powassan is irritation of the mind, or encephalitis, however not all people 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, muscle weak point, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and neck stiffness, in response to Yale Drugs.

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

For individuals who do have signs extreme sufficient to be identified, usually with encephalitis, the loss of life charge is someplace between 10% and 30%, Shapiro mentioned.

Bear in mind, nevertheless, it’s uncommon. “It’s a little scary, however it’s a uncommon illness,” Baumgarth mentioned.

With Lyme illness, the tick must be hooked up for a few day or so to transmit its an infection. Pulling the tick off promptly places you at low danger of an infection. If it’s been longer, a single dose of doxycycline is reasonably efficient in stopping an infection. Nevertheless, Baumgarth famous that the Powassan pathogen will be transmitted sooner than Lyme micro organism, “so it is onerous to outrun that.”

Prevention is the most effective 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 mentioned.

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 perhaps seen. Take away them instantly.

Use an insect repellent that has 30% DEET. One other repellent, permethrin, is supposed to be utilized to clothes.

After you come back from mountain climbing, wash garments and place in a sizzling dryer. If it’s sizzling sufficient, that can kill ticks.

Examine your self for ticks after you come back, bathe instantly and have another person verify 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.

SOURCES: Eugene Shapiro, MD, professor, pediatrics and epidemiology, vice chair for analysis, Division of Pediatrics, and deputy director, investigative drugs PhD program, Yale College, New Haven, Conn.; Nicole Baumgarth, DVM, PhD, immunologist, Johns Hopkins College of Public Well being, Baltimore; CBS Information


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