ATLANTA — Doctors are raising the alarm about a new and potentially deadly tick-borne illness spreading across the country.
It’s called the Powassan virus. It’s carried by the same tick that carries Lyme disease. If you’re going to spend any time outside this summer, doctors say you need to learn what to look for.
Tick-borne illnesses are on the rise across the country. It’s not just a disease of certain regions anymore like it used to be a decade ago.
According to the Georgia Department of Health, no cases of the Powassan virus have been reported in this state yet, but that could change soon, Dr. Taz Bhatia said.
“We haven’t seen Powassan yet, but to be completely honest, we haven’t been testing for Powassan,” she said. “So now that it’s on our radar, if it matches to those symptoms of fever, vomiting, weakness, we’ll be looking for it and testing for it, and seeing what we can do.”
The virus, which is carried by the deer tick spreads when the tick burrows in to the skin.
“Powassan virus might be a more serious, more deadly version of Lyme disease,” Bhatia said. “It can cause meningitis, which is an infection of the brain, it can cause encephalitis, which is a swelling of the brain, and it’s often associated with a fever, or vomiting, weakness.”
Cases of Powassan have been reported in the northeast and the Great Lakes region in the U.S. There is no cure yet.
“If you see a tick on you, you can use very thin tweezers to remove the tick in its entirety, the whole tick, and then save it in a plastic bag,”…