Two cases of rare tick-borne disease in Midcoast

Pawassan virus linked to ticks.

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --

A rare tick-borne virus is resurfacing in Maine.
State officials say there have been two confirmed cases of Powassan Encephalitis in the Midcoast this Spring.
State officials put out a warning about the virus earlier this spring.

Maine’s State Epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett says it's important to remember Powassan is a viral illness, unlike Lyme disease which is caused by a bacteria.
That means Powassan can't be treated with antibiotics like Lyme,  the body has to kill the disease on its own.
Bennett says the disease can be hard to diagnose because symptoms,  some of which can seem like other illnesses, may not appear until after a month after you're bitten by a tick.

“Nothing so obvious like a bull's eye rash,” she said. “We're talking about encephalitis which is an inflammation of the brain or meningitis which is an inflammation of the membrane the surrounds the brain and the spinal cord and there are other diseases that can cause meningitis and encephalitis. In fact, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, those happen to be transmitted by mosquitoes, not by ticks but it's the same kind of mechanism.”

To prevent Powasson you can use the same prevention techniques as you would to avoid Lyme disease by avoiding getting bitten by ticks.

Some suggestions from the CDC:

-Wear protective clothing. 
-Light clothing makes ticks easier to see.
-Use bug repellent and always follow the labels. 
-Clothing and gear can be treated with Permethrin for longer protection.
-Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and stay in the middle of trails whenever possible.
-Make it a habit to check for ticks every day.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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