As a nursing assistant trainee, it pays to stay informed about any advances in medical technology. It also pays to stay informed about the advance of new and emerging illnesses so that you may be prepared to recognize them should a sick patient present the symptoms while in your care once you’ve completed studies and landed a job as a certified nursing assistant. That is why whenever we read about an emerging threat to public health, we here at the Allen School Blog try to report to you on it.
Today’s report is on an emerging threat here in the Northeast, home region of the Allen School. Sure, we already all know about Lyme disease, its symptoms and how it is transmitted by being bitten by deer ticks. Well, the new Powassan (po-AH-sen) virus is also transmitted by the same black-legged deer tick as Lyme disease. However, unlike Lyme which requires the tick to have fed until fully engorged (about 24 hours) before the infection occurs, Powassan can be transmitted in as little as 15 minutes of being bitten. Also, unlike Lyme which is a bacterial infection treatable by anti-biotics, Powassan is a virus and there is no cure.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says, “With the more benign forms of the disease, [the symptoms] are very much nonspecific — you might have a fever, some headache, some vomiting, confusion,” According to Yahoo Health, “as the virus affects the brain more, you may get more confused, memory loss, seizures, and you can even die from it if you develop encephalitis, which is an infection of the brain.”
While this vague description of the symptoms may be precious little to go on with respect to rendering diagnosis, it is enough just to know about the existence of the ailment. Powassan is not new. However, it has been emerging in much greater numbers in the last few years in the Northeast. So it is worth keeping tabs on for nursing assistants and the doctors they work with.