Pennsylvania Reports Increase in Deadly Deer Tick Virus

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deer tick
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Pennsylvanians advised caution against tick bites as the infection rate of the deadly deer tick virus sees a sharp increase.

Deer tick virus (DTV), a type of Powassan virus, can transmit to humans in as little as 15 minutes after a bite. Although rare, the number of reported cases in the United States have significantly increased over the years. In a recent press release, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reported an unusually high infection rate of the virus within local samples.

The regulatory authority collected ticks from Lawrence Township Recreational Park in Clearfield County. According to their results, 92% of the ticks tested positive for the virus. This is the highest infection rate reported in a single location in Pennsylvania. The country’s previous highest infection rate was 11%. Moreover, at the time of sample collection, the statewide average infection rate for DTV was 0.6 percent.

The infection rate of ticks sampled from the Lawrence Township Recreational Park is extremely high, Deer Tick Virus transfers very quickly through the bite from an infected tick, and the health outcomes from the Deer Tick Virus are more severe than other tickborne illnesses typically seen in Pennsylvania.

Patrick McDonnell, DEP Secretary

Most infected people don’t develop any symptoms. While others can present with fever, headache, fatigue, and vomiting. Moreover, a severe infection can also develop from the infection spreading to the brain. Signs and symptoms include loss of coordination, confusion, difficulty talking, and seizures. There is currently no treatment or vaccine for the tick-borne disease. Therefore, health officials advise precautions to prevent tick bites.

The DEP has advised people to use tick repellents when going outdoors, especially on trails and wooded or brushy areas. Furthermore, people are advised to treat their clothes and camping gear with permethrin. People should also ensure to check themselves, their gear, and their pets for ticks after any outdoor activity.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

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