Experts have expressed concern for fatal tick-borne virus and is known to have caused human deaths, which can be now on the loose in New Jersey. Known as the Powassan virus, the state led to the fatality of Warren County woman, 51 years old, two years ago and “seems to be in northwestern New Jersey,” so says the director of the Division of Public Health Hunterdon County, Tadgh Rainey.
People infected with Powassan virus are likely to experience symptoms very similar to those of Lyme disease, including telltale rash, headache and fever associated with the disease. Official statistics from the Centers for Disease Control suggests that New Jersey has the fourth highest number of cases of Lyme disease diagnosed each year, behind New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
Tick-Borne Virus Fatal Could be a New Jersey Nightmare This Spring
But while the two diseases have similar symptoms during the first stage, the Powassan virus has the potential to be fatal. Around one in ten patients infected with the virus Powassan lose their lives to the disease, demonstrating the seriousness of the problem should an outbreak occur throughout New Jersey this spring.
The CDC insists that the Powassan virus remains extremely rare in the United States, although he admits that more cases are diagnosed through time. Since 2005, no more than about 60 cases of Powassan virus have been identified in US patients – most of which successfully fought disease. Along with the same initial symptoms as Lyme disease, people infected with the virus Powassan may experience confusion, memory loss, seizures, vomiting and disorientation. If not detected early and treated, has the potential to cause permanent brain damage and ultimately death.
The virus is carried by two ticks (Ixodes scapularis) and woodchuck ticks (Ixodes cookie) – the latter much more abundant than the state health officer originally thought to be. Tadgh Rainey insisted that the probability that the virus Powassan making their way into New Jersey was always very low and the disease has “no place” in the state.
“I never want to do anything but frightened person is important to be alert,” Rainey said, advising residents of New Jersey to check carefully for ticks after venturing outdoors or allow their dogs to run outdoors.
“Many of these viruses get it introduced and it takes a little time to take hold,” he added.