Powassan has been found not only in the United States, but also Canada and Russia. The CDC warns that infection comes in usually the late spring, early summer or mid-fall when ticks are most active.
Officials have alerted areas where the virus has been found, saying that people who work outdoors or have recreational activities in those areas are at an increased risk.
According to the CDC, many people don’t develop symptoms when infected and that the incubation is between one week and one month. Symptoms of the virus which can infect the central nervous system and cause encephalitis, can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties and seizures. Half of those diagnosed and survive will have permanent neurological symptoms like headaches, muscle wasting and memory problems. The CDC says about 10 percent of the cases can be fatal.
Right now there are no vaccines or medications to treat the infection from the Powassan virus. Severe Powassan illness will need hospitalization, which could include respiratory support, intravenous fluids and medication to reduce brain swelling.
What is worrying some medical professionals is how fast the virus can be transmitted. Dr. Jennifer Lyons told “Today” that it can be transmitted in only 15 minutes, verses 24 hours that Lyme disease needs to be transmitted.