Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on May 12, 2015


CDC: "Frequently Asked Questions: What is Powassan virus disease?" "Powassan virus disease cases and deaths reported to CDC by year and clinical presentation, 2004-2013."

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Video Transcript

You may be on the lookout for Lyme disease if you get bit by a tick.

But there’s another disease that could become a bigger threat, called the Powassan virus.

This is a rare virus you catch from a tick bite, the same way Lyme disease is spread.

It’s been spotted mostly in the region of the US around the Great Lakes.

While only 60 people have gotten the Powassan virus in the past 10 years, it’s caused 7 deaths.

And about half of survivors have permanent neurological symptoms, like memory problems.

Once you get bit, no symptoms will develop for a week or even a month.

Then you may get a fever, headache, vomiting, confusion -- even inflammation of the brain that can cause paralysis and seizures.

But there are no medicines to treat or cure the virus.

Right now, the only way to avoid the virus, is to avoid ticks.

If you spend time outdoors, especially in the woods, use a tick repellent, and wear long sleeves and pants.

When you get home, do a full body check.

Take a shower within 2 hours of being outdoors to wash off and look for any ticks. And don’t forget to check in your hair.

Remember, the disease is extremely rare, so no need to worry, just be aware. For WebMD, I’m Dr. Michael Smith.