With warmer weather here, we'll be spending a lot more time outdoors.

If you ask me, time outdoors is great, but we also have to keep safety in mind for ourselves, our family, and our pets.

Recently, there's been a lot written about the potentially deadly Powassan virus. Here's what you should know about it:

What is the Powassan virus?

According to the CDC, "Powassan (POW) virus disease is a rare, but often serious disease that is caused by a virus spread by infected ticks."

Is the Powassan virus new?

No. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, the Powassan virus was first spotted in the late 1950s.

While it's not new, it is rare. Only 7 cases have been reported in New Jersey between 2008-2017.

Does that mean that we don't have to worry about it?

No, the fact that it's rare does not mean that we don't have to worry about it.

While the disease is rare, it can be deadly.

It's also spread by the same tick that carries Lyme disease. Which brings us to...

Is the virus carried by a new kind of tick that's invading New Jersey?

One of the strange things that I noticed when researching Powassan were some headlines that touted "a new, invasive tick species" but the tick that carries Powassan is the well known deer tick (also called the blacklegged tick), which is of course the same pest that carries Lyme disease.

Where in New Jersey has Powassan been diagnosed?

According to the CDC's most recent data, Powassan has only been confirmed in Warren and Sussex Counties in North Jersey.

But that doesn't mean that we don't have to be mindful of it here in Ocean County.

Look at it this way - we already have to be wary of deer ticks, so whether they're carrying dangerous diseases or nothing at all, we still should protect ourselves and our pets and get a checkup if you find one that's been snacking on you.

You can read much more about the Powassan virus by clicking here for the New Jersey Department of Health's FAQ page.


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