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Advice On Avoiding Tick-Borne Illnesses This Spring

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) - Springtime means a greater risk of tick bites as ticks are more active this time of year.

Experts say there are at least 17 different tick species found in New York state.  Some people and animals that are bitten by an infected tick can get any of a number of illnesses, including Lyme disease.

One of those diseases, which is rare, is the Powassan virus.  The CDC says the virus is on the rise in the U.S., mostly in the northeast and Great Lakes regions.

"Unlike the other pathogens that are transmitted by these ticks, where you have 12 to 24 hours after the tick attaches before it starts injecting a pathogen into you, for the deer tick variant of Powassan virus, the tick can transmit the virus very quickly, within 15 minutes," said Laura Harrington, a professor of entomology at Cornell University.

Symptoms of Powassan virus can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties, and seizures.

Laura Goodman, assistant research professor at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, urges people to check for ticks on themselves or their pets after spending time outside.

"Even if it's cold, or even if you've just been in your yard or on your property, it's always a good idea to check yourselves, your family, and your pets," she explained. "It's important not to wait for the results of any tick testing to seek medical advice or treatment."

The CDC recommends quickly removing any tick found on a person.