A fourth person in Connecticut is recovering from Powassan Virus, a tick-borne virus. The state Department of Public Health said that person is in Ridgefield.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that although it is still rare, the number of reported cases of people sick from Powassan virus has increased in recent years and most cases in the United States occur in the northeast and Great Lakes regions from late spring through mid-fall when ticks are most active.
Officials from the state Department of Health said Powassan virus infection was added to the list of reportable diseases in Connecticut on Jan. 1 and four cases have been reported to state. One was in New Canaan, another was in New Preston, one was in Newtown and the other is in Ridgefield.
Ridgefield's first selectman said the test results just came back from the CDC.
There are no vaccines to prevent or medicines to treat Powassan virus disease, according to the CDC. They recommend reducing risk of infection by avoiding ticks.
Symptoms of Powassan Virus (according to the CDC)
Many people infected with Powassan virus do not have symptoms.
For people with symptoms, the time from tick bite to feeling sick ranges from 1 week to 1 month.
Initial symptoms can include fever, headache, vomiting and weakness
Powassan virus can cause severe disease, including infection of the brain (encephalitis) or the membranes around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).
Symptoms of severe disease include:
- Loss of coordination
- Difficulty speaking
Approximately 1 out of 10 people with severe disease die.
Approximately half of the people who survive severe disease have long-term health problems such as:
- Recurring headaches
- Loss of muscle mass and strength
- Memory problems
Diagnosis for Powassan Virus
Healthcare providers diagnose Powassan virus infection based on:
- Signs and symptomsHistory of possible exposure to the ticks that can carry Powassan virus
- Laboratory testing of blood or spinal fluid
Treatment for Powassan Virus
There is no medication to treat Powassan virus infection.People with severe disease often need to be hospitalized to receive support for breathing, staying hydrated, or reducing swelling in the brain.If you think you or a family member might have Powassan virus disease, see your healthcare provider.