Summer has arrived and for much of America is has been an exceptionally wet spring. This means two things – tick season is here and we can expect an increase in tick numbers. For the past decade, this would have meant repeated warning concerning the dangers of Lyme Disease. While these warnings are still valid there is a new, deadlier danger on the horizon – POWASSAN.
Powassan is not a new disease, according to the Center for Disease Control, there were 75 cases reported in 2016. However, it has taken on new importance due to an increase in tick numbers and an unexplained spread of the virus itself as detected in infected deer.
This unexplained rise in infections among deer is troubling to experts. First, it indicates the disease itself is on the rise. Second, it means more ticks have become carriers through exposure to the infected deer. Third, it increases the risk that humans will be exposed to infected deer especially in the Northeast & Great Lakes Region where Lyme Disease is also prevalent.
So what does this mean? Do I need to get another shot or take another pill before going into the woods? No, there is no known preventative vaccination for Powassan. Unfortunately, and more frightening, there is no known cure either. Nor is there any means of telling which ticks may be carriers. Bottom line, you venture into pick country at your own risk- of course, “tick country” now means the city park, kid’s playground or even your backyard.
The majority if people bitten by a tick will never show any symptoms of Powassan Disease and have no worries. However, everyone who shows symptoms is at risk for further problems including neurological complications. Of those infected, that is those who show advanced symptoms, approximately 15% will not survive. That’s right – will not survive!
The most common symptoms are a headache and fever. Pretty common and very hard to distinguish from dozens of other ailments. If the disease progresses the symptoms will include what doctors call “nonspecific flu-like symptoms”- muscle aches and general pains. You may also see a small rash.
If the disease progresses into the more serious life-threatening stages so will the symptoms. Within days an infected individual will begin to lose cognition and even consciousness, possibly accompanied by seizures. Those who survive are likely to face lifelong neurological complications which can result in additional problems such as speech difficulty, numbness in limbs or even amputation.
So what CAN you do?
As I said there is no vaccine and no treatment. This means the only means of disrupting the cycle is during transmission. You need to take all necessary care to avoid being exposed to ticks and tick bites. This means wearing long pants and sleeves when in the woods, tucking pant legs into boots and applying a quality repellant as directed. Once you get home thoroughly inspect yourself for any ticks and remove them as soon as possible – hopefully before they become embedded. If any bit is located watch it carefully for signs of Lyme Disease and watch yourself for the other symptoms of Powassan- each usually appear within days of exposure.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.