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Powassan Encephalitis: New Tick Virus Worse Than Lyme Disease?

Powassan Encephalitis: New Tick Virus Worse Than Lyme Disease?

A Ixodes scapularis or a deer tick that causes fatal illnesses like Lyme disease and the new Powassan encephalitis | REUTERS/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A new tick-borne disease called the Powassan encephalitis caused by the Powassan virus is feared to be stronger compared to the infectious Lyme disease.

According to reports, the Powassan encephalitis could be more fatal compared to Lyme disease, since half those who managed to survive tend to suffer from permanent brain damage while as much as 10 percent of its cases turn fatal.

Reports also reveal that the first case of the disease was discovered in Powassan, Ontario back in 1959, but only a handful of these cases were reported within the areas in southern Canada and other neighboring areas in the U.S. However, more victims were recorded in the northern part in the past 10 years, with 13 cases claiming the lives of three people in Massachusetts were reported during the past three years.

Due to the onset of a severe tick season this summer, other reports claim cases of tick-borne illnesses are expected to surge in the coming days.

"This spring definitely seems worse than others I remember," Dr. Catherine Wiley, the chief of general pediatrics at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, said in a statement. "People are coming in from the yard with numerous ticks on them."

Because of its possible danger, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer reportedly advised the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to increase their efforts to eradicate both the Lyme disease and the Powassan encephalitis.

"In times like these, it is imperative that we do all that we can to halt the continued spread of these tick-borne diseases," the senator stated. "That's why I am urging HHS Secretary Tom Price to fully implement the already-passed legislation within the 21st Century Cures Act, to ensure that we are making a sufficient attempt at ridding ourselves of these persistent diseases."

While actions regarding the complete eradication of tick-borne diseases are still being experimented, people were advised to be extra careful and avoid being bitten by ticks in their areas.


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