With the warmer winter leading to a spike in the number of deer ticks this spring and summer, experts are increasing awareness of an increase in the reported cases of a potentially life-threatening virus carried and spread by three types of ticks, including the deer tick that transmits Lyme disease.
Powassan, known as “POW,” is named after Ontario, Canada town where it was identified in a young boy who eventually died from the virus.
POW virus disease cases are rare but the reported number of cases have increased in recent years, with most cases in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
All residents of and visitors to areas where POW virus activity has been identified are at risk of infection, the CDC said, especially those involved in outdoor work and recreational activities.
There is no specific treatment, but people with severe POW virus illnesses often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain, the CDC said.
The CDC recommends using tick repellent when outdoors as well as wearing light-colored clothing that covers all parts of the skin, performing self-checks after being outside and avoiding areas with tall grass, including densely wooded areas.