MAY 14, 2017 12:44 PM PDT

CDC Warns of New Tickborne Disease

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Ticks are nasty creatures that already pose a threat to human health; now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning of another disease transmitted by these parasites. It’s a virus called Powassan, and so far it’s been a rare occurrence, but it does have the potential to be fatal. There is also a possibility of a record-breaking tick population this summer. Learn more from the following video.

"Tickborne diseases are on the rise, and prevention should be on everyone's mind, particularly during the spring and summer, and early fall when ticks are most active," said Rebecca Eisen, who is a research biologist in the division of vector-borne diseases at the CDC.

Laura Goodman, a senior research associate in population medicine and diagnostic sciences at Cornell University, agrees with the warning. "It's going to be a bad season," she said.

Around 75 cases of Powassan disease were reported in the United States in the past decade. The CDC reports that the majority of cases have happened in the Northeast and Great Lakes region. Although rare, Goodman stressed that Powassan has been spreading and more cases are likely.

The best way to prevent the disease is to avoid ticks, and check for them after spending time outdoors. The symptoms of the virus may include weakness, headache, fever, confusion, vomiting, seizures and memory loss. If encephalitis, brain inflammation, occurs the rate of fatality is ten percent, and there is a risk of long-term neurological damage as well.

Unfortunately there is no treatment for the disease at this time, and doctors have to simply try and manage the symptoms and complications. Those that come down with severe cases of Powassan must usually be hospitalized so that they can get therapeutics intravenously, have respiratory support administered, or receive medications to reduce brain swelling.

A milder winter in the Northeast has researchers especially concerned; a dramatic increase in the tick population is now expected in that region and possibly around the entire northern United States.

Eisen explained that "the ability of ticks to survive and reproduce also is influenced by temperature and precipitation. Other factors include, but are not limited to, availability of hosts and suitable habitat, such as wooded or brushy vegetation."

Ticks that can spread disease have expanded their range; they are now being found in areas they were not observed 20 years ago, she said.

It’s also recommended that you shower as soon as possible after potential exposure. Wash clothes in hot water, or you can put dry clothes into a dryer on high heat for ten minutes, longer to compensate if they are wet, in order to kill ticks that may remain on clothes. If you can’t dry the clothes on high, tumble on low for 90 minutes to kill ticks.

Related: Researchers Discuss Vector-borne Viral Diseases


"It's especially important to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones, including pets, from ticks during this season, as well as any time during the warmer months when you're outside," Eisen said.

Learn more about ticks and tickborne disease here at the CDC. Check out the video above from the Mayo Clinic on tick avoidance.

 

Sources: CDC, UPI

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
SEP 27, 2018
Microbiology
SEP 27, 2018
How Bacterial Cells Take out the Trash
Some types of bacteria create tiny versions of themselves that cannot reproduce - miniature spheres lacking chromosomal DNA that are known as minicells....
SEP 30, 2018
Microbiology
SEP 30, 2018
These Microscopic Things Elude Our Eyes Every Day
We take much of what we can see for granted, but if your eyes had the observational power of a microscope, you’d probably look at the world very diff...
OCT 07, 2018
Videos
OCT 07, 2018
Certain Foods Encourage a Gut Microbe, and Colon Cancer
Researchers reveal more evidence that refined grains and sugars and processed meats are bad for colon health....
OCT 22, 2018
Videos
OCT 22, 2018
Mad Cow Disease Identified in Scottish Cow
Stringent detection systems appear to be working, but cases still happen....
NOV 09, 2018
Cardiology
NOV 09, 2018
Lyme Disease And The Heart
In small-town New England, everyone knows the unique characteristic symptom of Lyme disease. A bulls-eye pattern rash around a tiny tick bite, infection gr...
NOV 12, 2018
Microbiology
NOV 12, 2018
Some Bacteria Gain Resistance Even Without Exposure to Antibiotics
Most bacteria are harmless, some are even beneficial to us. But some of the dangerous ones pose a real threat to public health....
Loading Comments...