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    5 things to know about Lyme disease and Powassan

    The CDC is warning of a high threat of tick-borne illnesses this summer, including the sometimes-deadly Powassan virus. Here are five things you need to know about Lyme disease and Powassan and how to code for them. 

    Ticks & Summer

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is predicting that summer 2017 will see a greater number of ticks and tick-borne illnesses across the U.S., possibly the highest number on record. A mild winter is in part responsible for the survival of a larger tick population, thereby increasing the likelihood of cases of Lyme disease and the deadly Powassan virus.

    In May, the CDC warned of a greater spread of Powassan, a disease the U.S. has seen only 75 times in the past decade, according to the agency. The virus, seen only in about 4% of deer ticks (vs. the 30%-40% seen with Lyme), is spread more quickly from tick to host.


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    To date, there are no medications or treatments for Powassan, hence the alert from the CDC for physicians and patients to be even more vigilant against ticks this summer.

    Signs & Symptoms

    Lyme Disease

    (3 to 30 days after tick bite)
    • Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches and swollen lymph nodes
    • Erythema migrans (EM) rash
                      • Occurs in 70% - 80% of infected patients
                      • May feel warm to the touch; rarely itchy or painful
                      • Sometimes clear as enlarges, giving it a target or bull’s eye appearance

    The CDC notes that many who become infected with Powassan virus don’t develop any symptoms.  However, symptoms that could appear are: fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties and seizures. Furthermore, 10% of Powassan virus encephalitis cases are fatal.

    Next: Codes to know


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