Powassan Tick Borne Virus More Deadly than Lyme’s
Tick-borne Powassan Virus mutates
I’d never heard of this virus when I read about it in the American Nurseryman Journal a few months back.
Powassan Virus is carried by the Ixodes scapularis (Black-legged or Deer tick). Adult Ixodes ticks are about the size of a sesame seed and it’s babies (the nymphs) are the size of a poppy seed! I’ve included a reference for photos of this arthropod in the reference links.
Powassan virus was first identified in 1958. The virus itself is an RNA flavivirus—an arbovirus that is similar to the West Nile and St. Louis Encephalitis type of diseases but I’ve read that it looks microscopically similar to the Herpes Simplex Virus as well. Ixodes scapularis ticks are found on white-footed mice and on deer. This same tick harbors Lyme disease.
Tick season encompasses late spring, early summer and mid-fall in Maine and Vermont where most cases have been identified but is on the rise and is spreading to other states on the East coast as of 2017 possibly due to climate change.
Powassan virus is deadlier than Lyme disease but is carried by the same species of ticks. Only 75 cases have been diagnosed in the last 10 years but perhaps (as in Lyme disease when it was first recognized) the medical profession has not readily recognized and connected the symptoms to this tick-borne disease.
Once a Powassan infected tick bites, the virus is transmitted within 15 minutes into the body and heads towards the nerve tissue, but symptoms take much longer to manifest taking between 7-30 days. Encephalitis and nervous system inflammation progress with symptoms including vomiting, fever, seizures, headaches, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulty and memory loss. The disease is diagnosed via blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples via electron microscopy and ELISA testing, but the medical facility must first suspect you have the disease to ask for this uncommon test . The Center for Disease Control needs to be contacted specifically for the test and can take up to 2 weeks to obtain results.
There is no treatment for Powassan virus. Ten percent of affected people die and 50% have permanent neurological damage. Medical treatment includes supportive respiratory care, intravenous fluids and medications to minimize brain swelling.
Prevention includes wearing long-sleeved shirts, bug sprays, and full-body tick checks after traveling into infected forests. Checking your critters for ticks before letting them come into the house is also advisable. One source stated that rustic and vacation homes may harbor the tick.
Note: Tick borne diseases that homeopathic Tick Borne Pathogen drops may support and help include: Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Borrelia, Tick fever, Ehrlichiosis, beginning Lyme disease, Rickettsia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia. Chronic Lyme disease which has affected the nervous system is very difficult to treat with natural medicine.
References for Powassan Virus:
- List of Tick-borne diseases: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/index.html
- Lyme Disease Association (photos of the Deer tick) https://www.lymediseaseassociation.org/news/1748-how-small-is-a-deer-tick-check-it-out
- Powassan virus: https://www.cdc.gov/powassan/index.html