Cases of tick-borne Pawassan virus confirmed in Maine, Rhode Island

Massachusetts

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – With the hot and humid weather comes many safety concerns, including ticks which experts say thrive in this environment.

They’re predicting this summer will be a ‘tick time bomb.’ The increase in ticks could also mean an increase in tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease.

Maine and Rhode Island, top vacation spots for local residents, have also seen cases of a rare tick-borne disease the Powassan virus.

Dr. Mark Kenton of Mercy Medical Center says this is a reminder to always check yourself for ticks, “It’s really important especially if you are going to be outside in wooded areas and long grass to make sure you complete body checks for ticks and check your kids.”

Powassan virus is rare but also a severe illness that causes infection of the brain. Symptoms can include fever, vomiting, and weakness. In severe cases, the virus can cause seizures and death.

“Whenever you go somewhere where there is tall grass, you should definitely check yourself,” said Bobby Markham of Springfield. Markham told 22News he goes to Forest Park often for outdoor activities and is always checking for ticks, “Just the other day my friend was walking their dog and we came out of the woods trail and the dog had 8 ticks on them.”

Medical experts say you can help prevent tick bites by avoiding wooded and brushy areas. Use tick repellent before going outdoors and try showering immediately after going outdoors to help wash off unattached ticks.

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