by Lena H. Sun

Two weeks after pulling a tick off that had only been attached for 2-3 hours, a five month  old baby developed a fever, vomiting, facial twitching, and seizures.  A brain MRI showed inflammation deep in the brain.

Thankfully, the physician in charge studied in Upstate New York and was familiar with Powassan – a virus which can be fatal in up to 10 percent of cases.

For more on Powassan symptoms and treatment:

Unfortunately, the article by Sun repeats the oft repeated transmission myth that a tick needs to be attached for days to transmit Lyme Disease.  While it’s true that viruses, such as Powassan can be spread in minutes, Lyme Disease has been spread in hours:  A minimum time has never been established.  We don’t even know how long it takes other coinfections to be transmitted as well as nematodes, funguses, and other bacteria/protozoa.  Please remember a tick transmits many pathogens when it bites.

She also wrongly states that only the CDC can test for Powassan.  Right here in good old Wisconsin, Coppe Labs can test for it as well.

A month after being sent home the baby couldn’t sit up anymore, but three months later his motor function returned to normal.

Sun also states that Powassan virus is rare.  I tend to agree with the physician who treated the baby that clinicians are probably only diagnosing the worst cases.  Folks that do not show symptoms, as in the case of many viruses, fly under the radar.  When bit by a tick; however, a pathogen invasion can trigger these normally benign viruses that are either lurking in the body or are transmitted at the same time as Lyme Disease and other pathogens.  I also agree with his statement that it is important to study Powassan in both ticks and people to determine just how prolific it really is.




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