A potentially fatal brain swelling virus is spreading in New York at alarming rates.

The Powassan virus is spread by the same deer tick that carries Lyme disease. Powassan, which in some cases has been fatal, attacks the nervous system and can cause dangerous brain swelling.

In 2016, the last year on record, 21 people were diagnosed with the virus across the United States, the CDC recently released. Three died from the virus. In 2015, there were six cases of the Powassan virus.

There is currently no treatment for the virus, which according to the CDC kills around 10 percent of people who become sick. Half are left with permanent neurological problems.

Signs and symptoms of infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures and memory loss.

People with severe cases of the virus often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain, according to the CDC.

The CDC reports from 2007 through 2016, 17 New Yorkers were diagnosed with the virus. 

2017 results haven't been released. But, Hudson Valley Post previously reported a New York man died from the virus last summer, while a number of others cases were reported just outside the Hudson Valley. 22 ticks tested positive for the virus from Saratoga Spa State Park, 100 Acre Wood Trail, Saratoga National Historical Park and a private home.

You can reduce your risk of being infected by taking the following precautions:

  • Using tick repellents
  • Wearing long sleeves and pants
  • Avoiding bushy and wooded areas
  • Thorough tick checks after spending time outdoors.

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