It’s that time of year again! We all love to get outside. Hiking, gardening and even sitting down to eat out on the patio is what is summer is all about. Unfortunately, we also need to be aware of the dangers of tick bites – especially in the northeast.
Lyme disease is an infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacterium carried and spread by deer ticks. The bacterium travels throughout the blood stream, entering various body tissues and resulting in a variety of symptoms. This disease usually affects the joints, nervous system and can even damage the organs over time.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Symptoms include the well-known bulls-eye rash, joint pain, chills, fever, fatigue and later tingling or numbness in extremities, and possible facial paralysis. In advanced cases, severe headaches, painful arthritis and swelling of joints, and even cardiac problems may occur.
It is important to note, there is not always a rash, it is not always a bulls-eye and it may not be at the site of the bite. If there is a rash, it typically appears one to two weeks after the bite.
Symptoms of The Powassan Virus
Lyme isn’t the only tick-borne disease we can contract from ticks. The Powassan virus (POW) is also transmitted by ticks and has become active in New York’s Hudson Valley. There have been only a few cases reported in the last few years, but this virus causes severe neurological damage and can even be fatal. Signs and symptoms mimic Lyme disease at first: fever, headache, weakness and confusion, but can quickly become severe resulting in hospitalization for vomiting, respiratory problems, seizures and brain swelling.
Not only is the Powassan virus more virulent and quick acting than Lyme disease, transmission is also much faster, taking about 15 minutes once the tick has completed digging in. For this reason, it is vital that anyone outdoors in an area where ticks are active check themselves regularly. Avoiding the Powassan virus involves the same steps as avoiding Lyme disease: be vigilant about tick exposure!