Experts warn of deadly virus as tick season approaches - WNEM TV 5

Experts warn of deadly virus as tick season approaches

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

A serious disease is emerging throughout the nation, it's known as the Powassan virus.

It can lead to permanent brain damage and even death in some cases.

Ticks have long been a source of the threat of Lyme disease, but now they are being blamed for the spread of a different deadly virus.

"It's been on the radar for Michigan, but being that it hasn't been located in Michigan - it's been more centralized in the Great Lakes area from Minnesota to western Wisconsin," said Chris Klawuhn, Saginaw County Environmental Health Services director.

He said the state officials are watching the deadly Powassan virus, which according to the CDC can infect the central nervous system and cause inflammation of the brain and even meningitis.

"You know the symptoms of it are a lot more severe and more rapid and to some degree more deadly than what people are used to or know of with Lyme disease," Klawuhn said.

The Powassan virus is transmitted by the same ticks that spread Lyme disease, but the virus has not showed up in Michigan the way Lyme disease has.

Lyme disease has been spreading across Michigan in the last 10 years and has been located in areas neighboring Saginaw County.

Health officials urge people to take caution while out in wooded areas and to wear insect repellent.

If you find a tick there are kits available at the health department that can be submitted to the state for identification.

In the last decade, 75 cases of the Powassan virus have been reported in Minnesota, Wisconsin and New England states. At this time there is no known cure.

>>Slideshow: Michigan ticks<<

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