Powassan Virus First Case Reported in Connecticut

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Powassan
Courtesy of mike dunn (Flicker CC0)

The year’s first case of Powassan virus’ was tested in Windham County, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. It is named after Powassan, Ontario where it was first discovered in 1958.

A 50-year-old man was the first case of a fatal tick-borne central nervous system illness after a man in his 50s was hospitalized and tested positive for the Powassan virus when he got ill during the fourth week of March. The unnamed patient was discharged to recover at home. Authorities are encouraging citizens to take measures to contain tick bites.

Health officers at the Colorado Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Laboratory in Fort Collins said that laboratory tests done proved the existence of the Powassan virus antibodies.

Powassan Virus in Connecticut

Of those 12 cases in Connecticut from 2017 to 2021, two were fatal.

Powassan is regarded as rare but usually goes hidden. Infected patients experience mild, flu-like illness or no symptoms at all. Several cases, according to DPH, might begin with weakness, fever, headache, or vomiting. Then rapidly advancing to coordination loss, confusion, difficulty speaking, or convulsions.

Powassan
Courtesy of Amber (Flickr CC0)

One in ten cases of severe Powassan is lethal. About half of patients with extreme Powassan will have long-term health issues.
On Wednesday, Manisha Juthani, DPH Commissioner, said that it is unknown how widespread Powassan is in Connecticut.

How Powassan Virus is Spread and How to Prevent It

Juthani said the virus is typically circulated through an insect bite of an infected black-legged or deer tick. Manisha Juthani, MD, of the Department of Public Health Commissioner said:

Using insect repellent, avoiding areas where ticks are likely, and checking carefully for ticks after being outside can reduce the chance of you or your children being infected with this virus.

It takes a week to four weeks for symptoms to develop after the bite from an infected tick, and the virus can be transmitted within 15 minutes after the tick attaches.

While most people infected with the Powassan virus are asymptomatic or have a mild flu-like illness, others will have severe illnesses that affect the central nervous system. Of 10 fatal cases, half of the survivors have long-term health troubles.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the Powassan virus, but severe illness is treated with hydration, respiratory support, and hospitalization.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas

Sources:
CT: Health Officials Urge Protection Against Tick Bites After 1st Case of Powassan Virus in CT in 2022
Greenwich Time: Potentially fatal tick-borne disease found in Connecticut; by Jordan Fenster
Connecticut News: Health officials urged protection against tick bites after first case of Powassan virus in CT this year; by NBC Connecticut

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Images by mike dunn’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Amber’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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