Powassan Disease

Video from Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (accredited hospital)

Jennifer Lyons, MD, Division Chief, Neuro-infectious Disease at Brigham and Women's Hospital

Powassan disease is a tick-borne illness that causes severe encephalitis in patients that become symptomatic from the infection. There is no remedy to combat the virus specifically. About 50 percent of patients who develop Powassan disease have permanent neurologic damage. In addition, about 10 percent of patients who suffer from Powassan disease don’t survive. Overall Powassan disease is a very rare infection with only a handful of cases reported every year in the US.

Symptoms of Powassan disease include fever, headache, and in severe cases, seizures, trouble breathing and difficulties with language and cognition. If you develop any of these symptoms after you have been bitten by a tick, it is advised that you seek medical attention.

Though there is no specific treatment for Powassan, patients may stay in the ICU and received supportive care such as a breathing tube, blood pressure support and nutrition to help their body recover while it’s fighting off the virus. If you spend time in wooded areas, the following measures can prevent tick bites and reduce the risk of developing Powassan disease or other tick borne illnesses:

• Wear long, light-colored clothing,

• Use insect repellent that contains permethrin.

• Tuck your pants into your socks.

• Do a thorough tick check after you’ve been outside.

This information was taken from the youtube page of Brigham and Women’s Hospital