It is tick season and the bugs have been making the rounds of late, not just because of the usual Lyme disease, but also because of the lesser-known Powassan virus. Experts are warning the public that this may be a bad year for tick activity, so here are some things you may want to know about tick-borne diseases.

Lyme Disease And Powassan Virus

Lyme disease may be the more well-known tick-borne disease, but now a new name is emerging in the books of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The truth is, Powassan virus isn't a particularly new tick-borne disease in the United States as more than 75 cases of Powassan virus have been reported in the country in the last 10 years, particularly in the Great Lakes region.

Just like Lyme disease, Powassan virus is transmitted by Ixodes scapularis, more commonly known as the blacklegged tick. Their symptoms are very similar, too, with fever and headache as the most prevalent.

However, Powassan virus is more severe compared to Lyme disease because unlike Lyme disease that can be successfully treated with antibiotics, Powassan virus has no specific treatment and infected people would often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support and to lessen brain swelling.

What's more, Powassan virus may induce seizures and memory loss, and can lead to long-term neurologic problems. Hence, while Powassan virus may occur less frequently, its consequences may be more severe.

As such, the CDC advises people to use tick repellent sprays, wear long sleeves and pants, and avoid bushy areas. Experts have already warned that this year could experience a particularly bad tick season.

Tick-borne Diseases In The US

Lyme disease and Powassan virus aren't the only tick-borne diseases in the United States. In fact there are 13 other tick-borne diseases carried by different tick species in different parts of the country.

The thing about ticks is that in the four life stages that they go through, each stage requires them to drink blood in order to continue on to the next. Now, the life cycle often takes three years to reach completion and most ticks that do not find a host will die, but those that do are sometimes the unfortunate carriers of diseases.

What's more, different ticks prefer different feeding methods, so while some ticks prefer to feed on one host to complete their life cycle, others may prefer a different host for each stage. Since tick-borne diseases are spread through bites, ticks can both transmit a pathogen from one host to another, or transmit their own pathogens to the chosen host.

Because of the combination of rising temperatures that contribute to the increased tick population and the state of this year's tick season, it would be best to remain in constant vigilance to avoid being infected with tick-borne diseases.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.