PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - A new health concern is brewing for tick bites. It's known as the Powassan Virus, and experts say it can be transmitted to humans in just minutes.
Dr. Mike Cirigiliano appeared on Good Day Philadelphia Friday morning to discuss the virus and express his own concerns.
The virus is spread by ticks, similar to Lyme Disease, but can be spread much faster. Dr. Mike explained that if a tick has been on you for 24-hours, it is usually cause for concern. However, with Powassan Virus, it can be spread within 15 minutes.
Experts are concerned with the virus due to two mild winters leading to more acorns, Dr. Mike explained. The acorns sustain mice, and the mice population is able to increase. This causes problems as mice can carry about 12 to 25 ticks, and move their way on to deer, and then humans.
Symptoms for most people include flu-like illness, but it can cause seizures, and encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.
According to Dr. Mike, 10% of people who get the virus die, and 50% suffer from permanent memory loss and neurological problems.
"You have to do the proper thing, and that is if your kids go outside you go outside you wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, you use deet, spray your clothing and after you go out you go and take a shower," Dr. Mike said.
So far, there have only been a few cases, but people, especially those with children and pets, are encouraged to be careful.
Cases in the United States have mostly centralized around the Northeast and around the Great Lakes. Pennsylvania has had one case reported so far, while New Jersey has had three. New York has seen 16 cases, while Minnesota has seen 20, and Wisconsin has seen 16.
"It's coming, so be careful," Dr. Mike warned.