Experts warn of potentially deadly tick-borne illness similar to Lyme disease, but faster-acting, untreatable and potentially fatal. The sickness called Powassan virus that is most commonly found in the same tick that hosts Lyme disease.
A Rare Viral Disease Is on the Rise, TuftsNow, July 16, 2017On paper, Powassan virus sounds like your basic nightmare. A tick-borne infection with no vaccine and no cure, it kills 1 in 10 people who get it and causes long-term neurological problems in half of reported cases. Fortunately, Powassan virus disease for decades had affected only about one person a year in the U.S.—most likely because it was typically transmitted from woodchucks to humans by a tick that rarely bites people. So back in 1997, when Sam Telford, a professor of infectious disease and global health at Cummings School, found a genetically distinct strain of Powassan virus in deer ticks—the bloodsuckers notorious for spreading Lyme disease—he initially worried about its implications. But despite the fact that he found the virus in 1 out of every 100 deer ticks he sampled, at the time there were no reports of swelling in the brain (called encephalitis) in sites where Lyme disease was common. He and his fellow researchers surmised that people just didn’t come down with Powassan virus disease from the strain carried by deer ticks. “It turned out we were wrong,” he said recently.
Tick-borne Powassan virus sickens two in midcoast Maine, BDN Maine, June 23, 2017Powassan is only one of several diseases caused by ticks that are on the rise in Maine. Lyme disease, the most prevalent, rose to a record 1,464 cases last year. Anaplasmosis, a bacterial infection that can lead to similar long-term effects as Lyme without a proper diagnosis, climbed dramatically as well.
Powassan is spread by the bite of an infected deer or woodchuck tick and can cause fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion and seizures. Brain swelling is a potentially devastating complication that kills 10 percent of those who develop it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About half of those who survive the infection suffer permanent neurological symptoms such as memory problems, facial tics and blurred vision. There is no vaccine or treatment other than keeping patients comfortable and hydrated during hospitalization.
Powassan Virus Is the Scary New Reason to Avoid Ticks, Time, May 4, 2017Lyme disease isn’t the only tick-borne illness that can come from a walk in the woods. Health experts are warning that another pathogen, Powassan virus, can cause dangerous inflammation in the brain and may be transmitted to humans much faster than Lyme.
The virus causes encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, and it kills about 10% of people who become sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About half of people are left with permanent neurological problems.
Experts warn of increases in tick-borne Powassan virus, CNN, May 3, 2017Summer is nearly here, and it’s bringing fears of a rare tick-borne disease called Powassan. This potentially life-threatening virus is carried and transmitted by three types of ticks, including the deer tick that transmits Lyme disease.
Over the past decade, 75 cases have been reported in the northeastern states and the Great Lakes region, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though no one can say how many infections will occur this year, warmer winters have led to an increased tick population, so experts predict rising tick-borne infections of many types.
Everyone is at risk for Powassan: Newborns, 20-somethings, the middle-aged, the elderly and the immunocompromised. Anyone bitten by an infected tick can get it, said Dr. Jennifer Lyons, chief of the Division of Neurological Infections and Inflammatory Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Infections are most likely during late spring, early summer and mid-fall, when ticks are most active.
New tick-borne virus worse than Lyme may be spreading, Cleveland19News, May 2, 2017The CDC warns that a new tick-borne virus that is much more serious than Lyme disease may be emerging in the U.S. Powassan Virus, which is rarer and more deadly than the bacteria that causes Lyme, is now carried by the deer tick, which has a broad range and often bites humans. Until recently, the disease was borne only by a tick that does not bite humans, and the risk was all but non-existent.
Tick-Borne Powassan Virus May Be Spreading, Experts Worry, NBC News, May 1, 2017 As if Lyme disease isn’t troubling enough, a more serious tick-borne disease may be emerging, experts warn. Powassan virus, which is a far rarer and more deadly pathogen than the bacterium that produces Lyme, is also transmitted by the deer tick. The virus can cause inflammation in the brain, which leads to death or permanent disability in 60 percent of cases.
Baby, First Connecticut Victim Of Rare Tick-Borne Virus, Recovering, Hartford Courant, April 22, 2017Now almost 1, Liam became sick with the Powassan virus after being bitten by a tick in October. Transmitted by the same tick that transmits Lyme disease, Powassan is less common but potentially much more dangerous.
New potentially deadly tick disease found on Cape, Cape Cod Times, July 19, 2016At least one Cape Cod resident has been stricken in the past few years with a potentially deadly tick-borne illness known as Powassan virus, which new research indicates has spread among deer ticks in several Cape towns. There were nine cases of Powassan virus among residents of Barnstable, Essex, Middlesex and Norfolk counties from 2013 to 2015. All of the individuals were ill enough to be hospitalized, at least 2 have died.
Powassan Virus, Minnesota Dept of Health, Vectorborne Disease Unit, April 2016Two types of Powassan virus have been found in North America including lineage 1 and lineage 2 (deer tick virus) POW viruses. Physician-diagnosed Powassan virus disease is very rare in Minnesota and the United States.
Deer ticks carrying dangerous illness have migrated to New York, CDC says, FIOS1News. April 15, 2015Powassan virus attacks nervous system and can cause meningitis; 10 percent of those affected die
Powassan virus/deer tick virus, Wisconsin Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, 2015 Cases of Powassan/deer tick virus infections have been detected because of surveillance for West Nile virus, a mosquito transmitted pathogen. This virus has been found in approximately 1.3% of adult deer ticks in the northwestern part of the state (Washburn County) and about 2-3% of adult deer ticks in Marathon County, in an area where high tick densities have been documented.
Experts warn of potentially deadly tick-borne illness similar to Lyme disease, Fox News, April 10, 2015The virus is found in about 2 to 3 percent of the ixodes scapularis, the primary tick that hosts Lyme disease and the Powassan virus, while Lyme disease is found in 30 to 40 percent of them, Andreadis said. But unlike Lyme disease, which can take a couple of days to infect the person bitten after the tick latches onto his or her skin, the Powassan virus can transmit in a fraction of that time.