This year is shaping up to be a banner year for disease-spreading ticks.
“We know that if somebody gets bitten by an infected tick with this virus and they get sick they have a 50% chance of having permanent neurological damage and a 10% chance of dying,” Durland Fish, professor emeritus of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, told Business Insider.
The caveat is that we don’t know how likely people are to get sick, Fish said — it seems a number of people bitten by Powassan-infected ticks don’t get sick (at least not sick enough to merit a case report).
Powassan is spread by the same ticks that cause Lyme disease, and there’s no treatment for it. Some studies show that the virus can be transmitted in 15 minutes or less.
According to Fish, Powassan was first discovered in the 1950s in Powassan, Ontario. From what we can tell, the earliest cases occurred when people were bitten by a species of tick that rarely bites humans. But Fish said that over the last 30 years or so, the deer tick (also known as the blacklegged tick) has “been expanding its range enormously.”
Somewhere along the way those ticks — which bite humans frequently — picked up the virus. It turns out they can spread Powassan, too.
Doctors have now detected Powassan in New England, New York, Wisconsin, and Minnesota — though only about 75 cases have been reported over the last 10 years. Fish thinks cases may be underreported, however, since doctors in many areas don’t have the ability to detect Powassan or may not know to look for it. Fish said the first case was recently recorded in Connecticut by a physician who’d previously encountered Powassan in upstate New York.
The fact that the virus was first discovered in Ontario but has since been found in US states may make it seem like it’s spreading, but that’s not necessarily the case, according to Rafal Tokarz, an associate research scientist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Until recently, Powassan hadn’t been tested for in many places, says Tokarz. So the uptick may just be due to the fact that we’ve started looking for it.
“Chances are that if you get bitten by a tick and you get a tick-borne disease, it’ll be Lyme,” Tokarz said. The CDC estimates that 300,00 people get infected by Lyme disease every year, but Lyme can be treated and it usually takes hours or days for a tick to transfer that infection. (please read comment at end of article)
For Powassan, on the other hand, “we don’t have a vaccine and we don’t have awareness,“ Fish said. “I hate to be sounding alarms, but just from what I know, it seems like something that could be serious.”
I’m thankful that this article admits that Lyme (borrelia) can be transmitted in hours. The “powers that be” typically regurgitate it takes 24-36 hours. To educate yourself as to how they came up with the erroneous and misleading time frame: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/04/14/transmission-time-for-lymemsids-infection/
Where the article takes a slight nose dive is when it states “Lyme can be treated.” My comment is that yes, it can be treated, but it often isn’t due to under diagnosis by physicians who are trained to follow the CDC/IDSA outdated and horrifically unscientific treatment guidelines of essentially 21 days of doxycycline for everyone, regardless of symptoms. Those working with Lyme/MSIDS patients understand this is a complex illness that typically includes coinfections that can look similar but different to Lyme such as Bartonella, Mycoplasma, Babesia, and more. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Throwing doxy at this is like throwing sand into the ocean. While that particular mono therapy will usually work for acute (just bitten) cases, it won’t touch those with chronic, persistent symptoms. The CDC/IDSA needs to recognize the importance of coinfections and admit borrelia can persist causing ongoing symptoms that can be life-changing and threatening.
Please notice that the news report (video in link at top) stated there have been 8 Powassan deaths within the continental U.S. Please compare that to ONE death caused by Zika in Puerto Rico, and that was not due to the virus itself but due to Guillain-Barré, yet when you compare research dollars of the two:
NIH allocations for other infectious diseases reveals a tremendous bias against Lyme: Over 300,000 cases per year, dismissed as insignificant and warranting $24 million in NIH funding, in favor of Zika’s emergency status (like SARS, swine and bird flus, Ebola), which is the top priority at CDC and to which Congress last year considered dedicating $622 million to $1.1 billion in response to the White House’s request for $1.9 billion. CDC Director Tom Frieden was quoted in the New York Times as saying: “Three months is an eternity for control of an outbreak,” he said, adding: “There is a narrow window of opportunity here and it’s closing. Every day that passes makes it harder to stop Zika. This is no way to fight an epidemic,” Frieden said. To date, Zika has affected 216 people on American soil. Annually, over 300,000 Americans contract Lyme disease in this country. Think about those numbers. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/2017-brings-hope-for-lyme-disease-sufferers_us_5874e964e4b08052400ee62b By David Michael Connor
For more on Powassan: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2016/02/21/powassan-virus/