Lyme Disease’s Dangerous “cousin”: Powassan Virus Is on The Rise

Author: Mosquito Squad of Chelmsford & Cambridge

Powassan Virus (POWV) is making news again and it affects you and Essex tick control. In large part, as theorized by Yale’s Dr. Durland Fish, professor of epidemiology, this is due to the rise in infection noticed in the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis.

However; in recent years, that has now changed. Spanning over 30 years of study, serum samples from white-tailed deer in New England confirmed the positive transmission of POW from deer ticks. To give evidence to this, in 2013 and 2014, Massachusetts had five positive cases of Powassan Virus. In years past, less than three cases were reported annually– collectively across the nation.

First discovered in the Canadian, Ontario town of Powassan in 1958, up until recent years, POWV was transmitted mainly to animals through varieties of ticks that did not usually bite humans. Today, that is no longer the truth. And just like we have seen the rise of Lyme Disease in recent years, scientists are growingly concerned that with confirmed infection in the deer tick population, we will continue to see a rise of infection in the human population as well.

Why is this? Unfortunately, the deer tick is not a finicky eater. It is also considered an aggressive hunter: deer, dogs, mice, humans… all are valid food sources to the black-legged tick. Deer ticks are incredibly small: some the size of a sesame seed, which can make them harder to detect when doing tick checks.

Like Lyme Disease, Powassan Virus, is a tick-borne virus which can produce encephalitis (swelling of the brain) or meningitis (swelling of the spinal column membranes or fluid). Symptoms usually manifest within 1 – 3 weeks and can include headache, fatigue, vomiting, stiff neck, and paralysis. Immediate hospital treatment is needed.

For Essex tick control, we recommend barrier spray protection all season long for your yard. This barrier spray provides ongoing protection from up to 85% – 90% of adult ticks (and mosquitoes) throughout your entire landscape, not just around your home’s perimeter. Here at Mosquito Squad of the North Shore, our trained professionals thoroughly search out known tick habitats that may be lurking unawares on your property. This includes fences, stone walls, long grasses or ornamentals that are favorite questing places for ticks to wait for their next meal. Our EPA-approved products do not wash away after a rainstorm, so you can be certain that week after week, you are free to enjoy your own natural habitat.

To learn more, or to schedule your free consultation for your home, you can contact us now at (978) 381-4028.