• Mild winter could mean more ticks carrying deadly disease

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    PITTSBURGH - This past winter was a warm one for Pittsburgh. Temperatures were nearly 10 degrees above average in February.  And the mild winter could bring a virus this spring.

    It’s called the human Powassan virus, or POWV, and even though it’s been around for a while, it’s now making headlines.

    "It may be moving into new hosts and it's uncertain whether that means we're going to see more cases in humans,” said Andrew Nowalk, assistant professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital.


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    Lyme disease can take around 24 hours to be transmitted after a bite. The Powassan virus can take as little as an hour. The initial impacts are flu-like symptoms.

    "The most worrisome thing would be if you get the infection of the central nervous system of the brain, you'll start to see a lot of symptoms of what we call encephalitis,” Nowalk said. “Fever, often seizures, changes in someone's mental status, their ability to think."

    Only 75 cases have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the past decade. Most were in the upper Midwest, but at least one has been reported in Pennsylvania. Ten percent of cases are fatal, and experts say those who survive can still suffer from long-term neurological problems.

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