Ticks Bring New Danger To Capital Region

Aug 6, 2013

US Senator Chuck Schumer at the podium, along with Albany, NY Mayor Jerry Jennings at Six Mile Waterworks, August 6, 2013.
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Ticks transmit the widest variety of pathogens, and as these tiny creatures proliferate across the country, they are spreading diseases you — and your doctor — probably never heard of. U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer was in Albany today at Six Mile Waterworks to call attention to a new and deadly tick-borne illness.

Recent reports suggest "The Powassan Virus" has spread from the Hudson Valley into the Capital Region, and currently there is NO treatment for it. A person in Saratoga County tested positive, and some ticks collected locally have also tested positive for Powassan, which can be fatal.

U.S. Senator Schumer, a New York Democrat, is sounding the alarm, explaining doctors can only address the symptoms, and that it takes just 15 minutes for Powassan to enter the bloodstream after a tick bite.

Albany County Health Commissioner James Crucetti notes tickborne illnesses have been a public health problem for years.   Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings emphasizes the tick problem has health care officials gravely concerned. He has held discussions with medical professionals and the Health Department.

Senator Schumer dashed off a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asking the agency to immediately allocate resources toward the study, prevention and treatment of the Powassan virus threat. He is also supporting legislation called the Lime and Tick Borne Disease Prevention Education and Research Act, which sets a policy of public and physician education.