First death from Powassan virus infection in US: All about the tick-borne disease

Source: The post is based on the article “First death from Powassan virus infection in US: All about the tick-borne disease” published in the PIB on 29th May 2023

What is the News?

A person in the US has died from the rare Powassan virus, marking the first fatal case in the US.

What is Powassan virus disease?

Powassan virus disease (POWV) is a rare but serious illness caused by the Powassan virus. It is often called a ticking time bomb. It is named after Powassan, Ontario where it was first discovered in 1958.

Spread: It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected deer tick, groundhog tick or squirrel tick.

Not all ticks carry these viruses and not all people bitten by a tick will get sick. A tick needs to be attached to a person for a certain length of time before it can cause disease.

Note: Ticks are external parasites that live by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians.

Symptoms: most people who contract the virus do not show any symptoms but people might face fever, headache, vomiting and weakness from one week to a month after being bitten. The other symptoms include Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), Meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord).

In serious cases, symptoms might include confusion, loss of coordination, and difficulty speaking and result in long-term health problems when the illness is severe.

Treatment: There is no specific vaccine or medication. People will be advised to take some preventive measures when they are outdoors.

Rest, fluids, and over-the-counter pain medications may relieve some symptoms.

Countries impacted so far: In most cases, the disease occurs in the northeastern and Great Lakes regions of the United States between late spring and mid-autumn, but other parts of the country have also reported cases of POWV lately.

Print Friendly and PDF