Powassan virus – Just when you think the tick-borne diseases couldn’t get worse, the Center for Disease Control just released the data on the new Powassan (POW) virus that is now making its way across the United States, and it’s scary.
For years, the CDC has been monitoring the evolution of the Powassan virus in the country. “The virus is becoming more common, particularly in the Northeast,” said Dr. Philip Armstrong, a medical entomologist.
According to the CDC, “Signs and symptoms of infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur.”
“Powassan virus can enter the blood within 15 minutes, but this was a measure they learned using mice as a study, so we can’t know exactly how it works with humans and how quickly it works,” said Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kafuman of Cornell University.
The CDC also adds that 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.
There have only been 60 human cases of Powassan in the United States within the past 10 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but Armstrong said the virus is still worth keeping an eye on.
There is currently no treatment for Powassan. “It’s not your average Lyme disease. It’s transmitted within 15 minutes of the bite. Lyme disease, if you see a tick on you and pull it off within 24 hours you won’t get it,” said US Senator Charles Schumer of the Powassan virus. “For Powassan, you have a one out of three chance of actually dying if you get bitten by it. It’s a deadly disease and there is no cure.”