Protect Yourself Against Powassan Virus and Other Tick-Borne Illnesses: Maine CDC Urges Precautions During Tick Season
As tick season begins, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) is urging residents to take precautions against tick-borne illnesses, including Powassan virus. Powassan virus is a rare but potentially deadly disease transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick or woodchuck tick. Since 2015, Maine has identified 15 cases of Powassan virus, including four in 2022, and three deaths. The most recent death was an adult from Sagadahoc County, who likely contracted the virus in Maine and developed neurological symptoms before passing away in the hospital.
To prevent tick bites and reduce the risk of Powassan virus, the Maine CDC recommends wearing light-colored clothing, covering arms and legs, tucking pants into socks, and using an EPA-approved repellent like DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus on skin. Clothing can also be treated with permethrin, an insecticide that repels and kills ticks. After spending time outdoors, it's important to check for ticks on the body and clothing, including pets, and put clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10-15 minutes to kill any crawling ticks.
Symptoms of Powassan virus may include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, or memory loss, and can develop anywhere from one week to one month after a tick bite. While many people infected with Powassan don't develop symptoms, severe cases can lead to serious neurological problems, such as brain or spinal cord inflammation, and about 10% of those with severe symptoms die. There is no medication to treat Powassan virus, but supportive care in a hospital can help manage symptoms and reduce complications.
Powassan virus is just one of many tick-borne illnesses that residents should be aware of during tick season. Other tick-borne illnesses include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, Ehrlichiosis, and Babesiosis. To learn more about ticks and tick-borne illnesses, residents can visit the Maine CDC website for real-time data and prevention tips.
In the wake of her husband's death from Powassan virus, Annemarie Weymouth is speaking out to warn others about the dangers of tick-borne illnesses. Robert Weymouth, a Topsham resident and racing enthusiast, passed away after contracting the virus, leaving his wife to urge others to take precautions and protect themselves against tick bites. With tick season in full swing, it's important to stay vigilant and take necessary measures to reduce the risk of tick-borne illnesses like Powassan virus.
0. “Maine CDC Confirms Powassan Virus Death: What to Know” TIME, 19 May. 2023, https://time.com/6281384/powassan-virus-disease-maine-death/
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