Get Ready for An Unusually Bad Year For Ticks and Tick Born Illnesses in Idaho
This is going to be a super bad year for ticks, thanks to unusually wet weather we've had in Idaho this spring. It's especially important to take precautions against tick bites, because of the possibility of being infected with Lyme Disease and a growing infestation of the Powassan Virus.
Luckily for Idahoans, Powassan Virus is not a big problem, it's only been contracted by humans in the North East and Great Lakes area so far. But cases of Powassan have grown each year for the past decade, while there very few reported cases before that. As bad as Lyme disease can be if not detected early, Powassan is even more deadly.
According to the Center for disease control, the symptoms are similar to Lyme disease, but show much quicker:
“Signs and symptoms of infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. 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.”
And while the disease is similar to Lyme, which can be treated if caught early, Powassan is much more deadly and dangerous:
“The disease can lead to encephalitis and meningitis, and give you permanent neurological issues afterward. And it can act much more quickly than Lyme disease, giving you symptoms within hours of being bitten by a tick. About 10% of cases that lead to encephalitis are fatal.”
Here in Idaho, Powassan Virus has yet to rear it's ugly head, but with this being predicted as an unusually bad year for ticks, there are still plenty of scary diseases to be worried about, not just for you but for your pets.
Powassan is extremely rare, having affected only 50 people in the U.S. over the past decade. In contrast, 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC each year although the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the U.S. is closer to 300,000 people .
To protect yourself, government officials advise you to avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass, use bug spray and conduct a full-body tick check on yourself, your children and your pets after going outdoors.
The best way to protect yourself from tick born diseases like Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is to avoid contact with ticks by staying away from wooded, bushy and grassy areas and by generously applying mosquito repellent, especially ones that include DEET in the contents. After kids have been playing outside, the CDC recommends that you check your children, especially their hair, for ticks.