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POW! The Tick Virus Far Deadlier Than Lyme

A new tick-related virus far deadlier than Lyme disease is moving into several U.S. states. POW, or Powasssan, is spread by deer and kills 15 percent of those who are infected and are showing symptoms, according to a neurologist who spoke with Fifty percent of infected people become permanently disabled. Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures and memory loss.

So far, only a few states along the Eastern Seaboard and in the upper Midwest are reporting POW deaths, but national surveillance for Lyme disease indicates that Lyme will plague America in the coming years.

Since national surveillance for Lyme disease began in 1982, the number of reported cases have grown 25-fold, but there could be as many as 10 times more cases that go unreported. Also called the “great imitator,” Lyme disease may mimic arthritis, fibromyalgia, neurological symptoms, cognitive deficits and multiple sclerosis to name a few conditions.

Usually, Lyme disease is spread through tick bites. However, it can also be spread by mosquitoes, spiders, fleas and mites, and it remains one of the most serious and controversial epidemics today. The disease usually starts with fatigue, fever, headaches and joint or muscle pain — but all too often, symptoms can baffle your physician, delaying treatment.

Since prevention is the best way to address this disease, here are several ways you can prevent contracting it: Avoid tick-infested areas such as leaf piles around trees; walk in the middle of trails and don’t sit on logs or on the ground; wear light-colored long pants (to make the ticks easier to see) and long sleeves so they can’t climb onto your legs or arms; tuck your pants into your socks; and keep long hair tied back.
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