By Cara Murez
THURSDAY, Could 25, 2023 (HealthDay Information) – Robert Weymouth, 58, of Portland, Maine, died this 12 months due to a tick chew.
You’ve got probably heard of Lyme illness and the issues it may well trigger when handed to a human via the chew of a deer tick. However Lyme isn’t the one tick-borne sickness within the woods.
Powassan virus — a uncommon and untreatable an infection — can be transmitted by ticks. That is the chew that led to deadly problems within the case of this Maine truck driver.
Weymouth — the third Powassan loss of life since 2015 in Maine and the primary this 12 months — probably contracted the virus within the state, based on Maine’s Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. He developed neurological signs and died within the hospital.
His widow, Annemarie Weymouth, is now warning others about defending themselves from the sickness.
“He was in there, however he could not transfer his physique. He may level to phrases on a board. He pointed to ‘scared,’ ‘afraid,’ ‘pissed off,'” Weymouth instructed CBS Information.
True case numbers unknown
“As a result of it is comparatively uncommon to make the prognosis, there’s quite a bit we do not know,” mentioned Dr. Eugene Shapiro, a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Yale College.
However this is what is thought:
The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention acquired 189 studies of Powassan an infection between 2012 and 2021.
Most U.S. circumstances of Powassan virus occur within the Northeast and Nice Lakes areas. Maine had 4 circumstances final 12 months alone.
Although ticks are arachnids like spiders, the virus is just not so totally different from some viruses by which a mosquito is the vector, comparable to dengue and Zika. Aside from its transmission by a tick, Powassan virus is “by no means, form or kind something like Lyme illness,” Shapiro mentioned.
Powassan virus is carefully associated to one thing referred to as tick-borne encephalitis, which is a virus significantly seen in Central Jap Europe and Eurasia, Shapiro mentioned.
The Powassan virus severely impacts solely a small variety of folks every year. However it’s attainable many others are asymptomatic or have minor or flu-like signs and aren’t identified.
The virus bought its identify from its discovery in a 5-year-old boy who died of the virus within the late Nineteen Fifties in Powassan, Ontario, Canada.
Specialists assume it was transmitted primarily by the groundhog tick, which usually didn’t feed on people. As a substitute, it fed totally on skunks, groundhogs and squirrels, Shapiro mentioned.
Sooner or later, it moved to deer ticks, and people are ticks that generally chew people.
There are nonetheless many mysteries to unravel regarding Powassan virus. For instance, though some analysis has recommended that as many as 5% of deer ticks in some areas of Connecticut are optimistic for the virus, that’s not exhibiting up in excessive numbers of Powassan human an infection, Shapiro mentioned.
However circumstances are rising, based on CDC numbers, mentioned Dr. Nicole Baumgarth, an immunologist at Johns Hopkins College of Public Well being. But it’s not clear whether or not there are literally extra folks changing into contaminated or if docs are testing for it extra continuously, she mentioned.
“There isn’t any therapy, aside from kind of basic assist of a person who has the illness,” Baumgarth mentioned. “Essentially the most critical sickness related to Powassan is irritation of the mind, or encephalitis, however not all people who will get contaminated with this virus will develop these very extreme circumstances.”
Different signs can embrace fever, chills, fatigue, rash on trunk of the physique, muscle weak spot, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and neck stiffness, based on Yale Drugs.
Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of these contaminated probably could have no signs or minor signs and never be identified.
For many who do have signs extreme sufficient to be identified, sometimes with encephalitis, the loss of life fee is someplace between 10% and 30%, Shapiro mentioned.
Take note, nevertheless, it’s uncommon. “It’s a little scary, however it’s a uncommon illness,” Baumgarth mentioned.
With Lyme illness, the tick needs to be hooked up for a couple of day or so to transmit its an infection. Pulling the tick off promptly places you at low threat of an infection. If it’s been longer, a single dose of doxycycline is reasonably efficient in stopping an infection. Nonetheless, Baumgarth famous that the Powassan pathogen might be transmitted quicker than Lyme micro organism, “so it is exhausting to outrun that.”
Prevention is one of the best treatment
You possibly can take some precautions to restrict tick publicity when spending time in grassy or wooded areas that may harbor ticks, Baumgarth and Shapiro mentioned.
Put on lengthy sleeves and lengthy pants, with the bottoms of the pants tucked inside socks.
Put on light-colored clothes in order that any ticks may be seen. Take away them immediately.
Use an insect repellent that has 30% DEET. One other repellent, permethrin, is supposed to be utilized to clothes.
After you come from climbing, wash garments and place in a scorching dryer. If it’s scorching sufficient, that may kill ticks.
Examine your self for ticks after you come, bathe instantly and have another person verify in locations you’ll be able to’t see, if attainable.
The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention has extra on the Powassan virus.
SOURCES: Eugene Shapiro, MD, professor, pediatrics and epidemiology, vice chair for analysis, Division of Pediatrics, and deputy director, investigative drugs PhD program, Yale College, New Haven, Conn.; Nicole Baumgarth, DVM, PhD, immunologist, Johns Hopkins College of Public Well being, Baltimore; CBS Information