HUDSON, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Columbia County Department of Health (DOH) is reminding residents to take precautions during tick season. The department is currently awaiting the results of a Columbia County resident for the Powassan virus, a rare, viral tick-borne illness.

According to the Columbia County DOH, symptoms of the disease range from mild flu-like symptoms to life-threatening encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain. The disease is extremely rare in New York, with 27 cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from 2011 to 2020.

“In Columbia County, we have learned through years of experience that a number of preventative measures can work together for protection against tick-borne diseases,” said Jack Mabb, Columbia County Director of Public Health. “It is important for residents to plan ahead before outdoor activities, be mindful of exposure while outdoors and to remain vigilant in checking for ticks both while outdoors and afterward for the best chance of prevention against tick-borne diseases.”

Mabb said the resident’s test results for Powassan could take up to three weeks. He also said that while Lyme disease can take up to 24 hours to be passed on to humans by a tick, Poweassan can be passed on in as little as 15 minutes.  

Suggestions to protect yourself from ticks

  • Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily, as well as enclosed shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
  • Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
  • Use insect repellent.
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors to wash off and more easily find ticks.
  • Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day and remove ticks promptly. Also, check children and pets.
  • Wear permethrin-treated clothing and footwear when in tick habitat.

The Schoharie County Department of Health also warned residents of the Powassan virus in ticks in June. The department found that 20% of ticks tested in a location in southern Schoharie County were positive for the virus that causes Powassan.