Should You Worry About Tick-Borne Powassan Disease?
Stay calm everyone—here's what we need to know about this tick-borne virus.
Have you seen the recent headlines about a tick-borne virus known as Powassan?
With summer around the corner, we’ve seen an uptick in alarming warnings about this disease:
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 7, 2017
— WebMD (@WebMD) May 9, 2017
Powassan virus is the scary new reason to avoid ticks https://t.co/mg9l5pN0Da
— TIME (@TIME) May 4, 2017
Chances Of Getting Powassan Virus Extremely Rare
Those headlines sound pretty serious, right?
Add on reports of a 10 percent fatality rate and up to 50 percent chance of permanent neurological damage, and now people really start to worry.
— Alexis Beecroft (@aemval) May 8, 2017
However, a closer look at what experts say about the Powassan virus shows that while it is serious, people should not start panicking about a massive outbreak.
Powassan Disease is extremely rare. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report only 75 total cases over the past decade.
Put another way, you have a roughly 1 in 53 million chance of getting the Powassan virus disease.
Think about those odds. You have a better chance at these things happening to you:
- getting struck by lightning (2 million to 1 odds)
- getting into a car accident (5,000 to 1 odds)
- drowning while taking a bath (840,000 to 1 odds)
- Dying from a snake bite (100,000 to 1 odds)
So, while this virus can do some serious damage, it is important to keep some perspective about your chances of getting it. Most diagnosed cases have been found in the Great Lakes and northeastern regions of the U.S., so if you live outside these areas, your chances are likely even lower.
How To Protect Yourself From Powassan?
Knowing what you can do to help protect yourself can go far in keeping you and your loved ones safe.
Like Lyme Disease, the Powassan virus spreads through deer tick bites. People cannot spread the virus to one another through contact.
The CDC gives the following safety tips to help protect yourself from ticks:
- Avoid bushy and wooded areas whenever possible
- If you are in those areas, wear long sleeves and pants
- Use tick repellents in high risk areas
- Do a thorough tick check after spending time outdoors
So, while it’s important to stay aware of this risky disease, don’t let it stop you from heading outside and enjoying the upcoming summer!