The Powassan virus is a virus that is spread by ticks and it is quite rare. In the last 10 years, only 75 cases of this virus was reported in the United States. It can be spread via deer ticks in the same way that Lyme disease is spread. In most cases, the infection of this virus is typically quite mild, however, there are cases where it can become severe and lead to death. The symptoms of this virus include encephalitis which is brain swelling. It can also cause meningitis or swelling in the spinal cord and other brain membranes. If you get this virus, it is possible that you may experience memory loss and weakness that can become permanent.
This virus is spread though infected ticks, especially deer ticks that bite people. There are other ticks that can carry the virus such as the woodchuck tick but these ticks don’t typically bite humans. Infected ticks are more likely to be in areas such as the Northeast and Great Lakes, so you should definitely try to avoid these areas if possible especially during the middle of fall, beginning of summer and in the spring.
It should be noted that not all deer ticks and other types of ticks have the virus and even if you do get bitten, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll contract the virus. With that said, ticks that do have the virus that bite persons and there is successful infection, it only takes a couple of minutes for infection to take place. You should also keep in mind that this virus can’t be spread from one person to another.
The symptoms of this virus are typically quite mild and in many cases, you may not even get any symptoms at all. If you do experience symptoms, they may be greatly delayed until weeks or a month after you’ve been bitten and infected. Some of the typical symptoms include weakness, headaches, issues walking, fever, issues talking, memory problems, seizures etc. So, if you have been exposed to possibly infected ticks and you notice any of the symptoms listed here, be sure to visit your doctor or even the emergency room if your symptoms are severe.
In many cases symptoms are mild and don’t require significant treatment. However, if the symptoms are severe, then medication will be administered to reduce brain swelling and fluids will also be given through an IV.
In summary, we have just looked at what is the Powassan virus, how you can contract it, the symptoms and how to treat it. It is important that you see a doctor if you get this virus and you’re experiencing severe symptoms as it may potentially be life threatening.