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Ticks + Tick Borne Illness Impact Mainers All Year And Can Be Deadly

Joe Raedle, Getty Images

I have a friend and her mom has been sick for a few weeks.  She was fine one day and within a few days she was in the ICU, she received the best of medical care and she passed away last week. It took less than two months. What caused all of this? A tick-borne disease called Powassan virus. This was Maine’s first documented case in about a decade.

‘Mom’ was a wonderful woman of 73.  I had the pleasure of meeting her a few years ago and going for a lovely walk with her. I NEVER would have guess she was her age correctly. She was joyful, active and very healthy. This breaks my heart for her family, it also hi-lights the need for all of us to aware of ticks and their growing, year round impact on Maine. Yes, it turns out cold will slow them down, but they can live a long time and cold does not impact ticks as much as I thought.

Nationally, just 50 cases of the Powassan virus have been reported over the past 10 years. Maine has had problems with Powassan before in 1999 to 2004 there were four cases and it turns out Maine has probably seen more. Powassan is not “reportable.”  As of now, health providers aren’t required to notify the CDC of Powassan cases, but could be changing.

But as ticks and tick borne disease affect us we will see more and more about the types of ticks in Maine. Yes, there are different types and each has differences and can impact our lives differently. Just Google ‘ticks’ or check out what the CDC has to say about them.

It all makes my skin crawl. I hope tick-borne illness will be more of a focus in medicine and research. I hate ticks anyway. A tick-borne illness took my old dog, Coffee. He had Lyme. I have seen the impact on friends of Lyme. Ticks have taken away my joy of just walking in the wood with ShadowDog.  Now I really hate them, they have taken away something even more precious, they took away ‘Mom’.

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