Tick Season is HERE. And It’s Scarier Than Ever!
A healthy fear of ticks is nothing new for most outdoor enthusiasts and pet lovers, but there's reason to be even more concerned and cautious this year. The Powassan Virus, a potentially fatal tick borne virus, is currently spreading across the United States. According to the Center of Disease Control, between 2006 and 2015 there were 58 reported cases of the Powassan virus in: Maine (2), Massachusetts (8), Minnesota (20), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (3), New York (16), Pennsylvania (1), Virginia (1) and Wisconsin (16). So far in 2017, we've already seen the Powassan Virus move to two new states, with reported cases in Virginia and Connecticut. With experts predicting an unusually bad tick season this year, many other states are warning their residents to prepare for a potential Powassan outbreak.
What Is The Powassan Virus?
The Powassan Virus, carried by the deer/black-legged tick and ixodes cookei tick, can be found in Russia and North America and is categorized in the genes flavivirus. Other flaviviruses include dengue fever, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis virus, and West Nile virus. Contraction of flaviviruses like Powassan can lead to a condition called encephalitis—or a sudden inflammation of the brain. Initial symptoms of the Powassan Virus include fever, headache, confusion, general disorientation, nausea, and muscular weakness. While most infected individuals will not exhibit any symptoms, those who do will experience the flu-like signs of Powassan virus 1-3 weeks after contracting the disease. If not properly treated, the resulting symptoms can cause complications such as seizures, aphasia, cranial nerve palsies, paresis, and altered mental state.
There are currently no vaccines or medications to prevent or treat the contraction of the Powassan Virus. However, if detected in time, infected ticks can be removed before they're capable of spreading the virus to you—It’s important to remove ticks from the host as soon as possible.
What's Causing The Spread Of The Powassan Virus?
Increased cases of Powassan can be directly attributed to the rise in numbers of ticks this year. Historical indicators tell us that 2017 could bring one of the worst tick epidemics in recent history. Goudarz Molaei, a research scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, believes 2017s abundance of ticks is a result of two consecutive warm Northeastern winters, and longer spring and summer seasons. All of which conspires to create an unusually favorable environment in which tick populations can thrive and multiply.
What Can I Do To Reduce My Chances Of Contracting The Powassan Virus?
The only way to reduce the probability of contracting the Powassan Virus is by reducing your exposure to Ticks. By creating an environment inhospitable to ticks and other biting insects, you can rest assured that you and your family will remain free of tick-borne illnesses like the Powassan Virus. Although applying an all natural insect repellent to you and your pet before heading outdoors is important , treating your home and lawn is an equally necessary step to keep ticks away from you, your family and your pets.