Rare Virus Transmitted By Maine Ticks Can Cause Seizures, Difficulties Speaking
Maine is well-versed in the transmission of Lyme Disease from ticks but a second disease from ticks has surfaced in a surprising second case reported this week.
The Maine CDC confirmed a second case of the rare Powassan virus diagnosed in the State of Maine this year. Including these two cases, there have been only 10 identified cases of the rare virus in Maine since 2010, now with a fifth of those cases happening this year. Nationwide, there are about 25 cases identified per year.
Powassan is a virus transmitted by ticks and has been increasing in prevalence over the years. The Great Lakes region and Northeast US have had the most cases. It's rare that the virus passes from person to person.
The scary thing about this virus is that you probably won't know you have the virus if you aren't experiencing any symptoms.
If you do experience symptoms, you would experience them a week to a month after being bitten and you'll experience symptoms that you could confuse with a lot of other things including fever, headache, vomiting, and weakness, which pretty much sounds like the flu.
The virus can cause severe disease which can cause infection in the brain or in the tissues around the brain and spinal cord. Severe disease results in symptoms like confusion, loss of coordination, difficulty speaking and seizures.
There is a high risk of dying with this disease where one in ten people who get the severe disease die. Those who survive the disease are left with recurring headaches, loss of muscle mass and strength, and memory problems.
There is no treatment for the Powassan virus infection but those who think there may be a chance that the virus could be present should get a hold of their primary care provider. Evaluation will include a history evaluation, symptom assessment, and blood or spinal fluid tests.
For more information about the Powassan virus, visit the Maine CDC webpage about the virus.