Tick Talk 2

As background, I want to direct you to this article which covers ticks and the diseases they spread a bit more broadly. Ticks still suck, and they still can carry lots of diseases.

But I'd like to give you two updates.

First the bad newsPowassan virus is spreading and has recently made the news in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Connecticut had four cases last year.

This is a problem because unlike many of the other tick-borne diseases (such as Lyme, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, rocky mountain spotted fever). there is no treatment. 

According to Massachusetts Department of Public Health, "most people who are exposed to Powassan virus likely never feel ill." Sounds okay, right?

However, MassDPH goes on to say, "others may become severely ill with meningitis (inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal cord) or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Signs and symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties and seizures. Approximately 10% of people with this severe form of the disease will die and survivors may have long-term health problems."

So again, it's rare, and like many cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis or West Nile Virus, a person might experience mild or no symptoms at all, but death or long term disability can happen. Of the cases of Powassan virus cases in the US in the past 10 years, the majority have been in the northeast, and the Great Lakes region. 

But the good news is that there has been some progress in the medical world.

Pfizer has been working on a Lyme vaccine and just completed phase two. Don't get me wrong, I think that's great, but remember that ticks can cause so many other diseases, so I find the news from Tarsus pharmaceuticals a bit more exciting. They're working on an oral pill--similar to the ones that dogs take, that will kill ticks when they attach to you. 

We need all the weapons we can get against ticks because anyone who spends time outdoors is at risk. I've personally had more ticks this year than I can recall for this early in the season, and with shorter and warmer winters, it's only going to get worse

Check out last year's article which covers the other tick illnesses.

Stay safe and do your tick checks!

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