Powassan Virus, Deer Ticks in the Hudson Valley

The Powassan Virus

The Powassan virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected black legged/deer tick. Although still rare, the number of reported cases of people sick from Powassan virus has increased in recent years.

There are no vaccines to prevent or medicines to treat Powassan virus disease. Reduce your risk of infection from Powassan virus by avoiding ticks.

If you have been bitten by a tick, save it in a plastic container. If you are not sure what kind of tick it is or if you know it is a black legged tick, seek medical care. While Powassan cannot be prevented with medical treatment, Lyme disease can be prevented by treatment within the first 72 hours, and the sooner antibiotics are started the better.

Symptoms

Many people infected with Powassan virus do not have symptoms.
For people with symptoms, the time from tick bite to feeling sick ranges from 1 week to 1 month.
Initial symptoms can include:

Fever
Headache
Vomiting
Weakness

Powassan virus can cause severe disease, including infection of the brain (encephalitis) or the membranes around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).
Symptoms of severe disease include:

Confusion
Loss of coordination
Difficulty speaking
Seizures

Diagnosis

Healthcare providers diagnose Powassan virus infection based on:
Signs and symptoms. However it is difficult to distinguish Powassan virus from other viral illnesses.
History of possible exposure to the ticks that can carry Powassan virus
Laboratory testing of blood or spinal fluid

Treatment

There is no medication to treat Powassan virus infection.
People with severe disease often need to be hospitalized to receive support for breathing, staying hydrated, or reducing swelling in the brain.
If you think you or a family member might have Powassan virus disease, see your healthcare provider or come into FirstCare Medical Center today.

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