IN sees 2 cases of new rare tick virus

Lone Star ticks are one of the most common ticks in Missouri. It carries ehrlichiosis which causes flu-like symptoms among other diseases

There is no specific treatment, but people with severe Powassan virus illnesses often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids or medications to reduce swelling in the brain.

"Tick bites can cause serious illness and even death, and the discovery of Heartland virus gives Hoosiers another important reason to take precautions", said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H.

Bryon Backenson, an epidemiologist with the state Department of Health, said there is no indication Powassan Virus is an increasing problem in NY or elsewhere in the Northeast. The state health department confirmed the same day that a resident had contracted Bourbon virus.

Many people know of Lyme disease, but there is a lesser known, more unsafe tick-borne illness called the Powassan virus.

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Dr. Paul Schulz, an infectious disease specialist with Norton Healthcare, said the virus is rare and hard to detect because symptoms are similar to the flu and include fever, headaches or muscle pain. There have only been a few cases detected nationwide and one person has died. The family said doctors were dumbfounded on her initial visit.

Amid an increase in tick-borne illnesses this year, Missouri health officials have launched a study to trap and test ticks for diseases. Other tick-borne diseases found in IN include Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Ticks are found throughout IN in grassy and wooded areas.

The virus is spread through infected deer ticks. Checking for ticks, using repellents and wearing long clothing are the best ways to avoid infection. Children should be assisted when performing tick checks. If you find a tick on your body, use tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible and pull up slowly. After the tick is removed, the area should be washed thoroughly. The tick should be discarded by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Ticks should never be crushed with the fingernails.

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