Anyone who has dealt with Lyme’s Disease knows that it’s no picnic. Well, it looks like a tick-borne virus even worse has made it into our backyard.
It’s called the Powassan virus, and there are already 20 confirmed cases in Minnesota. Ticks in 6 counties have tested positive, some of them very close to the Brainerd Lakes Area.
The virus was confirmed in Anoka, Cass, Clearwater, Houston, Morrison and Pine counties.
First documented in 1958, the virus is named after the Canadian town where it first appeared. Symptoms include headache, vomiting, weakness, and in many cases, swelling of the brain. Government statistics show that half of those infected will suffer permanent neurological damage. Since 2008, there have been 22 reported cases in Minnesota, but researchers warn that the number could grow. A Yale report published in 2015 sighted ecological changes that “have resulted in the pathogen spreading to the common deer tick.” Unlike Lyme disease, which is treatable and preventable, if an affected tick is quickly removed, the Powassan virus has no known treatment and can be transmitted from a tick to human in only minutes.
Symptoms, how to prevent tick bites, and other general info from the Minnesota Department Of Health can be found here.