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Powassan Virus Deadlier Than Tick-Borne Virus That Causes Lyme Disease; Find Out Why [VIDEO]

Update Date: May 03, 2017 09:19 AM EDT
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Powasson virus
An old but deadly tick-borne virus called the Powasson virus is making its presence felt in New England. (Photo : Getty Images / Stringer)

Health officials are on the verge of sounding alarm bells this tick season, as a new tick-borne virus is spreading throughout the East Coast. The Powassan virus has effects, which are said to be deadlier than the virus that causes Lyme disease.

What Is This Virus?

The Powassan virus is a tick-borne virus that was first recognized in a town in Canada of the same name. The pathogenic Powassan virus causes meningitis and swelling of the brain in extreme cases.

The complications from the symptoms of the tick-borne virus can lead to death in 10 percent of its cases. If the patient survives, there will be permanent problems like memory issues, facial tics, and blurred vision, Bangor Daily News reported.

At first, the Powassan virus was just a rare disease-causing pathogen because the insects that carried it rarely, if ever, bit humans. But the game changed when the tick-borne virus crossed over to the deer tick, which readily bites humans.

The data on the Powassan virus from 2008 to 2015 shows it has spread over the Northeast part of the US. It had much of the cases appearing in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New York, Today reported.

No Vaccine For Virus As Of Now

What worries health officials the most is that the Powassan virus has no known treatment or vaccine. This deadly tick-borne virus can also be transferred to humans very easily - just a little over 15 minutes, compared to the Lyme disease-causing bacterium, which needs inoculation of at least 24 hours.

Some researchers are using the growing number in the New England deer population that are showing symptoms of the infection to be the indicator that the number of ticks that have picked up the pathogen has also grown.

Other researchers are quick to allay fears that the virus is spreading fast. While researchers in Maine found the virus in almost seven percent of adult ticks, only 2 percent of ticks carried it in the state of New York.

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