Aquick-moving and potentially fatal virus has been found in the U.S. in the Northeast and Great Lakes area.
Carried and transferred to people and pets by ticks, the Powassan virus can infect the central nervous system, causing similar symptoms to Lyme disease, but more severe and without any cure.
Once bitten by an infected tick, it only takes a matter of hours before symptoms begin to occur. The patients infected are likely to become susceptible to neurological damage due to inflammation of the brain, which can lead to both encephalitis and meningitis.
Currently, approximately ten percent of cases have led to death, with only 50 people affected in the U.S. each year (compared to the roughly 20,000 people who are affected by Lyme disease).
Although contracting the disease is quite rare, because of the possible fatality, doctors are urging people to do everything they can to prevent being infected. For people who work outdoors or camp in any of the affected areas, the chance of becoming infected is much higher.
Here are the main guidelines to follow to protect your family:
- Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass.
- Complete a full body check on yourself, children, and pets when spending time outdoors.
- Carry and use bug spray.
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