Deer Tick Virus

Deer Tick Virus in New England

Closely related to the Powassan Disease (POW), the deer tick virus (DTV) is spread by the blacklegged tick – also known as the deer tick – and the white-footed mouse. The two viruses differ so little that the only way to know whether an infected person has POW or DTV is through genetic sequencing. Deer tick virus is a danger throughout the United States, as blacklegged ticks are commonly found in conjunction with their main host, the white-tailed deer. As such, residents of areas populated by white-tailed deer should be mindful of tick bites, especially from the end of spring through the middle of fall.

Symptoms of Deer Tick Virus

Signs and symptoms of deer tick virus generally include a high fever and neurological impairment. Typically, patients experiencing dysfunction of the central nervous system and a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher are diagnosed with DTV, barring a more likely explanation of the symptoms.

Though symptoms may not appear, people infected with DTV are also prone to:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Memory Loss

Deer tick virus symptoms can start to show as early as one week or as late as one month after first contracting the infection from a tick bite.

Treatment

Treatment of the deer tick virus usually entails the hospitalization of the infected person, who then receives intravenous fluids, respiratory support, and antibiotics. As DTV can cause long-term neurological damage, staying away from the blacklegged tick is imperative. Avoiding tall grass and wooded areas altogether is the best way to prevent the contraction of DTV. Individuals who regularly participate in outdoor activities can take effective precautionary measures, such as remaining in the center of cleared trails, covering as much skin as possible, and spraying appropriate repellents/chemicals on clothes and exposed skin to avoid the bite of the blacklegged tick.

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