Tick-borne virus found in Wisconsin

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- It’s the beginning of tick season across Wisconsin, and while many think of Lyme disease health experts are warning those about a different type of virus.

It’s called the Powassan virus. It’s carried by deer ticks.

It's a rare virus, but it’s a far more dangerous pathogen than Lyme disease.

"A fairly high proportion who get sick and go to the doctor end up with permanent neurological damage," said University of Wisconsin-Madison Entomology Professor Susan Paskewitz "About half of the people who get it don't have long lasting impacts, but [there] about half who do."

The Center for Disease Control says in Wisconsin 16 cases have been reported in the past 10 years.

Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting and in some more serious cases seizures.

Paskewitz says while Lyme disease is more common, the Powassan virus is yet another reason to protect yourself form ticks.

"Any place where there's a wooded environment you're likely going to encounter them. There really aren't any spots left where we don't see them," said Paskewitz.

Deer ticks like to live in heavily wooded areas.

To protect yourself it's recommended you wear insect repellent, and long clothes while in a wooded area, and to check your body for ticks once you leave. If you begin to show symptoms contact your doctor.

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