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Adult deer tick, Ixodes scapularis. Photo: Scott Bauer, USDA
Adult deer tick, Ixodes scapularis. Photo: Scott Bauer, USDA

Deer ticks in NY harbor rare, but often fatal virus

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A Saratoga County resident is recovering from a rare, but emerging illness transmitted by deer ticks.

County health officials tell the Albany Times Union that the deadly disease is known as Powassan. Only 15 cases have been discovered statewide over the past nine years. But the disease killed nearly a third of those infected. Most of the cases were in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties.

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Reported by

Julie Grant
Reporter and Producer

Unlike Lyme disease, a tick can start transmitting the Powassan virus within 15 minutes of finding its host. According to the Times-Union, there's no treatment for Powassan - doctors can only address the symptoms. It can cause central nervous system malfunction, meningitis and brain swelling.

While Powassan is still extremely rare in humans, there's concern about the increase in ticks with the virus. Researchers have found more ticks infected with Powassan in the Hudson Valley than expected in recent years.

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