Deadly tick disease likely on the rise this summer

Posted at 6:19 AM, May 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-12 08:29:00-04

Ticks are known for carrying Lyme disease, however researchers now worry there might be more cases of the Powassan virus.

The Powassan virus is not new however researchers expect an increase with this year's tick season. There has only been 75 confirmed cases in the US, but unlike Lyme disease, 10 percent of Powassan cases are deadly

Powassan can be contracted through a tick bite and can causes swelling of the brain and also the spinal cord.

Researchers at the Johnson County Extension Office in Olathe say they do not expect the Powassan virus to be a huge problem here like it will be in the north eastern region of the United States, however they are still warning people.

"It is conservable that we could have that, but again probably is more eastern United States. I wouldn't expect us to have much of an issue with it but it still would cause me concern, or if my kids were outside that they would get exposed to that," said Agricultural Agent Ricker Miller.

Lyme disease is also a concern for researchers. It starts out with flu like symptoms but can develop into joint pain, memory loss and extreme fatigue in severe cases. 

As for tick season here in the Kansas City metro, Miller says people will benefit from the recent rain driving ticks back into the ground. However, the warmer than usual weather could mean more ticks this summer once the rain goes away.

"In general anytime you have really mild winters you have less insect population die off in the winter time. so it just makes it a little easier for them to start off strong and perhaps build up," said Miller.

People are more likely to get bit by a tick while outside in the summer in heavily wooded areas.

There are ways people can protect themselves from tick bites

  • Wear long sleeves and cover up as much skin on your body as possible
  • Wear bug replant- Miller suggest a deet base formula
  • Do a tick inspection on your body when you come indoors
  • Shower off after being outside