New tick-borne virus worse than Lyme may be spreading - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

New tick-borne virus worse than Lyme may be spreading

The deer tick is also known as the black-legged tick. (Source: CDC) The deer tick is also known as the black-legged tick. (Source: CDC)
Deer ticks are small and can easily go unnoticed when they bite you. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Stuart Meek) Deer ticks are small and can easily go unnoticed when they bite you. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Stuart Meek)
The deer tick's broad range and tendency to bite humans has public health officials concerned. (Source: CDC) The deer tick's broad range and tendency to bite humans has public health officials concerned. (Source: CDC)
The CDC mapped the number of reported  Powassan virus infections over a 10-year period this century. There have been more cases since 2015. (Source: CDC) The CDC mapped the number of reported Powassan virus infections over a 10-year period this century. There have been more cases since 2015. (Source: CDC)

(RNN) - The CDC warns that a new tick-borne virus that is much more serious than Lyme disease may be emerging in the U.S.

Powassan Virus, which is rarer and more deadly than the bacteria that causes Lyme, is now carried by the deer tick, which has a broad range and often bites humans. Until recently, the disease was borne only by a tick that does not bite humans, and the risk was all but non-existent.

Powassan virus, which can cause death and permanent bodily damage, has the potential to develop into a serious public health problem. 

The CDC has a record of 75 cases of the severe disease between 2006 and 2015; it remains far less common than Lyme. But it is transmitted more quickly – within 15 minutes from the time the tick bites. Lyme takes 36 to 48 hours, according to the CDC. 

Powassan attacks the nervous system and can infect the brain, causing encephalitis, and it can infect the lining of the brain, causing meningitis. The symptoms range from none to death, according to the Yale School of Public Health.

Serious infections cause the most severe symptoms including headache, muscle weakness, confusion and seizures about a week or more after infection.

About 10 percent of the people who develop meningitis and brain-swelling die. About half the people who survive have permanent neurological damage, including memory problems, facial tics, and blurred vision.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment other than providing comfort, keeping patients hydrated and in the worst cases providing supportive therapy that will allow the immune system to resolve the illness before the patient dies.

Many patients, however, show no symptoms at all, which is why researchers have so much trouble knowing exactly how many people have been infected.

The cause for concern is the recent proof that the deer tick now carries the virus. Discovered in the 1950s in Powassan, Ontario, until three decades ago, it was only carried by a tick that didn’t bite humans.

But with the jump to the deer tick, the spread may be inevitable. Studies of wildlife, who also can become infected, show Powassan increasing in New England and parts of the upper Midwest.

Copyright 2017 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • Latest health & fitness newsLatest health & fitness newsMore>>

  • Opioid treatment gap in Medicare: methadone clinics

    Opioid treatment gap in Medicare: methadone clinics

    Tuesday, April 24 2018 3:56 AM EDT2018-04-24 07:56:13 GMT
    Tuesday, April 24 2018 6:48 AM EDT2018-04-24 10:48:52 GMT
    (AP Photo/Kevin D. Liles, File). FILE - In this March 7, 2017, file photo, the CEO of a methadone clinic holds a 35 mg liquid dose of methadone in Rossville, Ga. The drug is the oldest and most effective of approved medications used to treat opioid add...(AP Photo/Kevin D. Liles, File). FILE - In this March 7, 2017, file photo, the CEO of a methadone clinic holds a 35 mg liquid dose of methadone in Rossville, Ga. The drug is the oldest and most effective of approved medications used to treat opioid add...
    Opioid overdoses killed 1,354 Americans ages 65 and older in 2016, but Medicare doesn't cover the oldest proven treatment for opioid addiction: methadone.More >>
    Opioid overdoses killed 1,354 Americans ages 65 and older in 2016, but Medicare doesn't cover the oldest proven treatment for opioid addiction: methadone.More >>
  • UN health agency: Dengue vaccine shouldn't be used widely

    UN health agency: Dengue vaccine shouldn't be used widely

    Thursday, April 19 2018 10:56 AM EDT2018-04-19 14:56:41 GMT
    Monday, April 23 2018 5:58 PM EDT2018-04-23 21:58:07 GMT
    The World Health Organization says that the first-ever vaccine for dengue needs to be dealt with in "a much safer way" and mostly given to people previously infected with the disease.More >>
    The World Health Organization says that the first-ever vaccine for dengue needs to be dealt with in "a much safer way" and mostly given to people previously infected with the disease.More >>
  • US experts back marijuana-based drug for childhood seizures

    US experts back marijuana-based drug for childhood seizures

    Thursday, April 19 2018 12:02 PM EDT2018-04-19 16:02:09 GMT
    Monday, April 23 2018 1:07 PM EDT2018-04-23 17:07:05 GMT
    US panel says a medicine made from the marijuana plant should be approved to treat severe epileptic seizures in children. (Source: Pixabay)US panel says a medicine made from the marijuana plant should be approved to treat severe epileptic seizures in children. (Source: Pixabay)

    US panel says a medicine made from the marijuana plant should be approved to treat severe epileptic seizures in children.

    More >>

    US panel says a medicine made from the marijuana plant should be approved to treat severe epileptic seizures in children.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly