Tick-Borne Powassan Virus Can Kill — The way to Shield Your self


By Cara Murez 

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Might 25, 2023 (HealthDay Information) – Robert Weymouth, 58, of Portland, Maine, died this 12 months due to a tick chunk.

You’ve got doubtless heard of Lyme illness and the issues it may trigger when handed to a human by way of the chunk of a deer tick. However Lyme isn’t the one tick-borne sickness within the woods.

Powassan virus — a uncommon and untreatable an infection — can be transmitted by ticks. That is the chunk that led to deadly problems within the case of this Maine truck driver.

Weymouth — the third Powassan dying since 2015 in Maine and the primary this 12 months — doubtless contracted the virus within the state, in accordance with Maine’s Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. He developed neurological signs and died within the hospital.

His widow, Annemarie Weymouth, is now warning others about defending themselves from the sickness.

“He was in there, however he could not transfer his physique. He may level to phrases on a board. He pointed to ‘scared,’ ‘afraid,’ ‘pissed off,'” Weymouth informed CBS Information.

True case numbers unknown

“As a result of it is comparatively uncommon to make the analysis, there’s loads we do not know,” mentioned Dr. Eugene Shapiro, a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Yale College.

However this is what is thought:

The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention acquired 189 experiences of Powassan an infection between 2012 and 2021.

Most U.S. instances of Powassan virus occur within the Northeast and Nice Lakes areas. Maine had 4 instances final 12 months alone.

Although ticks are arachnids like spiders, the virus will not be so completely different from some viruses through which a mosquito is the vector, corresponding to dengue and Zika. Apart from its transmission by a tick, Powassan virus is “by no means, form or kind something like Lyme illness,” Shapiro mentioned.

Powassan virus is intently associated to one thing known as tick-borne encephalitis, which is a virus significantly seen in Central Japanese Europe and Eurasia, Shapiro mentioned.

The Powassan virus severely impacts solely a small variety of individuals every year. Nevertheless it’s doable many others are asymptomatic or have minor or flu-like signs and aren’t recognized.

The virus received its identify from its discovery in a 5-year-old boy who died of the virus within the late Nineteen Fifties in Powassan, Ontario, Canada.

Consultants suppose it was transmitted primarily by the groundhog tick, which generally didn’t feed on people. As a substitute, it fed totally on skunks, groundhogs and squirrels, Shapiro mentioned.

In some unspecified time in the future, it moved to deer ticks, and people are ticks that generally chunk people.

Mind irritation

There are nonetheless many mysteries to unravel regarding Powassan virus. For instance, though some analysis has prompt that as many as 5% of deer ticks in some areas of Connecticut are constructive for the virus, that’s not displaying up in excessive numbers of Powassan human an infection, Shapiro mentioned.

However instances are rising, in accordance with CDC numbers, mentioned Dr. Nicole Baumgarth, an immunologist at Johns Hopkins Faculty of Public Well being. But it’s not clear whether or not there are literally extra individuals changing into contaminated or if docs are testing for it extra regularly, she mentioned.

“There isn’t a therapy, aside from form of normal help of a person who has the illness,” Baumgarth mentioned. “Essentially the most critical sickness related to Powassan is irritation of the mind, or encephalitis, however not all people who will get contaminated with this virus will develop these very extreme instances.”

Different signs can embody fever, chills, fatigue, rash on trunk of the physique, muscle weak point, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and neck stiffness, in accordance with Yale Drugs.

Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of these contaminated doubtless may have no signs or minor signs and never be recognized.

For individuals who do have signs extreme sufficient to be recognized, usually with encephalitis, the dying fee is someplace between 10% and 30%, Shapiro mentioned.

Have in mind, nevertheless, it’s uncommon. “It’s a little scary, however it’s a uncommon illness,” Baumgarth mentioned.

With Lyme illness, the tick must be hooked up for a few day or so to transmit its an infection. Pulling the tick off promptly places you at low danger of an infection. If it’s been longer, a single dose of doxycycline is reasonably efficient in stopping an infection. Nevertheless, Baumgarth famous that the Powassan pathogen may be transmitted quicker than Lyme micro organism, “so it is exhausting to outrun that.”

Prevention is the most effective treatment

You possibly can take some precautions to restrict tick publicity when spending time in grassy or wooded areas that may harbor ticks, Baumgarth and Shapiro mentioned.

Put on lengthy sleeves and lengthy pants, with the bottoms of the pants tucked inside socks.

Put on light-colored clothes in order that any ticks is perhaps seen. Take away them instantly.

Use an insect repellent that has 30% DEET. One other repellent, permethrin, is supposed to be utilized to clothes.

After you come back from mountaineering, wash garments and place in a sizzling dryer. If it’s sizzling sufficient, that can kill ticks.

Test your self for ticks after you come back, bathe instantly and have another person verify in locations you’ll be able to’t see, if doable.

Extra info

The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention has extra on the Powassan virus.


SOURCES: Eugene Shapiro, MD, professor, pediatrics and epidemiology, vice chair for analysis, Division of Pediatrics, and deputy director, investigative drugs PhD program, Yale College, New Haven, Conn.; Nicole Baumgarth, DVM, PhD, immunologist, Johns Hopkins Faculty of Public Well being, Baltimore; CBS Information