Rare, deadly tick-borne virus found in U.S.

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (April 14, 2015) — Ticks in Connecticut tested positive for a tick-borne illness with no known cure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a small percentage of ticks in Branford and Bridgeport areas are infected with Powassan virus, a neurological disease transmitted from ticks to humans. Health officials have reported about 60 cases of the virus over the past 10 years, mostly in the northeast and Great Lakes region, according to WTIC.

Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures and memory loss. The virus can also cause long-term neurological problems. While the virus has no cure, those who contract Powassan often require hospitalization to get help with respiratory problems, intravenous fluids or medication to reduce swelling in the brain.

“Just about any wooded area of Connecticut that you venture into, there’s a chance of picking up ticks,” Dr. Theodore Andreadis of the DEEP’s Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station told WTIC. “If you’re going to be out hiking, camping, spending any amount of time in a wooded area with a lot of brush, you really want to make sure you check yourself when you come out of the area. That’s the most effective method.”

Hikers and campers should take appropriate steps to protect themselves against ticks. Here are recommendations from the National Pest Management Association:

  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes when outdoors, especially in wooded areas or tall grasses.
  • Wear light colored clothing, which makes it easier to spot ticks and other insects.
  • Wear a bug spray containing at least 20% DEET when outdoors, and reapply as directed on the label.
  • When hiking, stay in the center of trails, away from vegetation.
  • Take steps to keep your own yard tick-free. Keep grass cut low and remove weeds, woodpiles and debris, which can attract ticks and other pests.
  • If you find a tick on yourself or a family member, remove it with a slow, steady pull so as not to break off the mouthparts and leave them in the skin. Then, wash your hands and the bite site thoroughly with soap and water. Ticks should be flushed down a toilet or wrapped in tissue before disposing in a closed receptacle.
  • If you find a tick in your home or suspect you have ticks on your property, contact a licensed pest professional who can inspect and recommend a course of action to reduce or eliminate ticks on your property.

For more information, visit the CDC’s website.

Source: WTIC

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