(WTNH) – The state Department of Public Health has announced the year’s first case of Powassan virus in Connecticut, Powassan virus (POWV) is usually spread through the bite of an infected black-legged or deer tick, according to state officials.
DPH said that a man between the ages of 50 and 59, who is a resident of Windham, became ill during the first week of March. Lab tests showed that he tested positive for POWV. He was hospitalized with a central nervous system disease and had a known tick bite.
The patient has since been discharged from the hospital and is recovering at home, according to DPH.
From 2017 to 2021, there have been 12 cases of POWV in Connecticut, including three in 2021, according to the DPH. Of those 12 cases, two have been fatal.
“The identification of a Connecticut resident with Powassan virus associated illness emphasizes the need to take actions to prevent tick bites from now through the late fall,” said DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD. “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.”
While most people who are infected with POWV likely experience no symptoms or mild flu-like symptoms, some people may develop severe illness that will affect the central nervous system, according to DPH.
“But then, a small subset may progress to more severe symptoms that might require hospitalization,” said Dr. David Banach, UConn Health Infectious Disease Physician.
Severe cases may include fever, vomiting, headache, weakness, difficulty speaking, or seizures.
Dr. Banach says Powassan is much less common than other tick infections and the changes overall of becoming infected with the virus are very small.
But, if you are headed to a wooded area, you should still protect yourself.
“Wearing protective closing, trying to keep our skin from being exposed, tick repellant is very effective,” Dr. Banach.
Dr. Banach says when you get home, you should, ” do a tick check, showering and laundering your clothes right away. All the things that can prevent tick attachment and the potential for a tick-borne infection.”
The doctor says it’s too early to predict what our tick season is this year. In the last few years, there has been a bit of an increase in tickborne infections.
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