CDC warns of disease that kills 10%, permanently disables 50%
WASHINGTON – The Centers for Disease Control is warning of the emergence of a far deadlier tick-related virus than Lyme Disease – one that kills 10 percent of those infected and permanently disables the other 50 percent.
It’s called POW for short, or Powassan, and it, like Lyme, is carried by deer.
Recent cases have been noted in the Northeast U.S. and the Great Lakes states.
The virus can cause inflammation of the brain, leading to death in 10 percent of cases and permanent disability in 50 percent of cases.
Signs and symptoms of infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss, according to the CDC. Long-term neurological problems may occur. There is no specific treatment, but people with severe POW virus illnesses often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain.
“About 15% of patients who are infected and have symptoms are not going survive,” said Dr. Jennifer Lyons, chief of the Division of Neurological Infections and Inflammatory Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. “Of the survivors, at least 50 percent will have long-term neurological damage that is not going to resolve.”