The NJ Tick Threat is Real
The state Department of Health has confirmed a Warren County Woman from New Jersey died of a rare tick-borne disease. Her death in early May was caused by the Powassan virus. This disease is an uncommon illness that only eight other cases have been diagnosed this year in the United States.
The unnamed victim, had developed symptoms that include fever, headache, rashes, and encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. The physicians treating the 51-year old victim notified the state and they were able to get a tissue sample that was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which they were able to confirmed for Powassan.
Ticks thrive in New Jersey
This disease is spreading by two kinds of ticks, which are the black-legged or deer tick that can also carry Lyme disease, and the woodchuck tick. Although Lyme disease is rarely fatal, the Powassan virus is fatal in 10 percent of cases. Those who survive, will experience neurological complications like paralysis or cognitive problems.
However, very few of the ticks in New Jersey will likely to encounter and get infected by this virus. And, although more than half of adult-stage ticks are infected with Lyme, there is only an estimated one percent acquires the Powassan virus.
Protect your property and health from tick bites
In spite of the very low tick infection rate, homeowners are still advised to protect their property and health from tick bites. There is hardly a month where we could not encounter ticks. Ticks are not commonly killed off by cold weather. They just become so sluggish from feeding that they no longer need food. We still have tick season as these ticks flourish in the summer months, where most of them are in their smallest nymphal stage, so we may not be able to notice them right away. Tick activity slows after the temperature drops below 20 degrees. However, you can expect to see them back after a few days of above-freezing weather.
The Powassan virus have been reported in the United States with about 50 cases of it over the past decade. They were found in the northern woodlands of Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York. This year, the CDC has confirmed eight other cases that include four in Wisconsin, three in New York and one in New Hampshire. According to news reports, the teenage victim in New York also died of this rare tick-borne disease.
Once infected by a tick, be meticulous about the possible symptoms that can occur. Symptoms may show one week to one month after being bitten by an infected tick. The timetable that a tick needs stay attached to a person may require 24 to 48 hours before it can transmit Lyme disease, but the timetable for the Powassan or POW virus is shorter than that, which makes it more dangerous. The CDC also confirms that there is no specific treatment for this virus. Those who suffer from a severe case may require to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce the swelling in the brain.
Make sure to wear long-sleeved clothing and pants and carry an insect repellent while walking outdoors. Proper clothing is always a necessity especially when there is a possibility of getting in contact with nature or the animals that resides in the area.