A few years ago I found myself with a loved one sitting in the exam room of a Lyme disease specialist. It was unsettling news, the specialist thought my loved one needed to be tested for Lyme disease. We were incredulous, there had never been a bulls-eye rash. There were no memories of a tick bite. That’s when we found out most people with Lyme disease never develop the most well known symptom. The costly test had to be sent to California and it would take a while before the results were back. In the meantime, we began researching the disease trying to see if the symptoms matched what we were reading. During our course of research we came across the movie, Under Our Skin. It was enlightening and also terrifying. So many lives changed by a moment in time. We got the results back, they were negative. We were, of course, thankful for the negative result but also moved forward with a heightened awareness of the possibilities a small bite may bring.
As if Lyme disease itself was not enough, there are also other risks from a tick bite. The Powassan virus originated in Ontario but according to the CDC there have been 75 cases reported in the Midwest and northeast US over the past 10 years. The main symptoms are fever and headache but neurological symptoms may also develop. The virus can lead to encephalitis and meningitis. Sadly, a small percentage of cases lead to death.