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When it comes to diseases spread by ticks in the United States, just about everyone knows a thing or two about lyme disease, but ticks carry a multitude of other disease-causing pathogens that many Americans are not aware of, some of which are relatively common. Some of the most commonly transmitted tick-borne diseases in the US include, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, babeseiosis, ehrelicosis, anaplasmosis and tick-borne relapsing fever. Another tick-borne disease, Powasson virus, occurs far less frequently, as a mere 100 cases have been reported in the US over the last 10 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Much like all other tick-borne diseases, the majority of Powassan virus cases occurred in the northeast US. Although this tick-borne disease is rare, cases have been increasing steadily in recent years.

Residents of the northeast do not need to go venturing into the wilderness to contract Powassan from an infected tick, as many people have contracted the virus from tick bites sustained within their own backyards. The tick species responsible for transmitting Powassan is known as “the black-legged tick,” or “the deer tick,” which is the same species that transmits lyme disease. Unfortunately, two residents of the northeast have tested positive for the Powassan virus this year alone. One of these individuals recently passed away, and although the official cause of death, as well as the identity of the victim, has not yet been released to the media, a relative of the victim claimed that her father’s death was linked to the virus. The relative, Dianne Desormeaux Rude, stated that her 80 year-old father, Armand, began showing severe symptoms of Powassan last May, shortly after he had sustained a tick bite while gardening in his backyard. The best ways to prevent tick bites is to apply insect repellent containing DEET, and to where long shirt sleeves and pants. The case described above proves that taking these precautions is necessary even when spending time within the confines of one’s property, and this is especially true for those living in the northeast and the Great Lakes region.

Are you concerned about the increasing cases of Powassan disease in your region of the US?