What Is Powassan Virus?

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You have heard about Lyme disease from ticks and even a disease that makes you develop a red meat allergy, but have you heard about Powassan virus? No? Powassan virus is rare, but it should not be dismissed. In fact, cases have already been confirmed in New York State. Don’t be one of them. Here is what you need to know about Powassan virus.

What is Powassan Virus?

Powassan virus is a tick-borne disease that can land you in the hospital. Powassan is not the same as Lyme disease.

Powassan virus (POW) is a silent virus. Many people who get the virus do not present with any symptoms, especially not right after being bitten by an infected tick. It can take as little as a week or as long as a month from the initial tick bite before someone infected with the disease presents with any symptoms.

The virus is similar to a common mosquito-borne disease called West Nile virus. The POW virus is in small and medium-sized rodents - in the Capital Region, that means mice, squirrels, and woodchucks. Once a tick feeds on the rodent, it becomes a carrier of the virus. Once the tick bites a human, it then transmits the virus. The tick usually dies after this bite.

Symptoms of Powassan Virus

Symptoms of Powassan virus are brutal and can land you in the hospital. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea

  • Headache

  • Vomiting

  • Muscle and joint pain

  • Memory loss and cognition troubles

  • Weakness and fatigue

  • Trouble speaking

  • Seizures

If the virus is left untreated, it can result in neurological problems and encephalitis. The CDC reports that about 50% of people who have had Powassan virus end up with life-long issues, often suffering memory loss, headaches, and muscle wasting.

Which Ticks Transmit Powassan Virus?

There are two types of Powassan virus: 1 POW and 2 POW. The first is connected to tick species known as lxodes cookei or lxodes marxi. The second one is associated with deer ticks, also known as black-legged ticks. Black-legged ticks are the ones that transmit Lyme disease as well.

How to Prevent Ticks

If you are keeping track, that means you have to watch out not only for one type of tick, but three. You also have to watch out for the pests that carry ticks. Here are a few ways you can reduce your chances for becoming infected by a tick-borne disease:

  • Wear long pants and sleeves.

  • Wear your socks on the outside of your pants.

  • Avoid grassy and wooded areas.

  • Keep your lawn trimmed.

  • Stay on well-worn or defined paths.

  • Inspect yourself, your kids, and your pets before entering the house after being outside.

  • Make sure your pets are up to date on flea and tick medicine.

  • Wear brightly colored clothing to identify ticks easier.

  • Wash your clothes in hot water.

  • Wear bug repellent.

  • Have your yard treated by a pest control professional.

For fast, effective tick treatment for your Capital Region and Adirondacks property, contact Thomas Pest Services today. We know Albany and we know ticks. We want you to enjoy spring and summer again, with limited exposure to tick-borne illnesses.


Tags: tick prevention tips  |  powassan virus  |  tick and mosquito control in ny


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