Two Connecticut residents test positive for Powassan virus

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) has issued a warning about the Powassan virus, a disease transmitted through ticks.

Two Connecticut residents have tested positive for Powassan virus infection. The patients are between 50-79 years of age and live in New Haven and Fairfield Counties. Both were hospitalized with central nervous system disease and have been discharged and are recovering.

Jocelyn Mullins, the Public Health Veterinarian at DPH said the disease infects the central nervous system. And those people might rapidly progress from that mild, Flu-like illness to confusion, and loss of coordination , or even difficulty speaking. Among people who have that severe disease she said approximately one out of ten cases can be fatal.

There’s  no vaccine right now, or a specific treatment for the Powassan virus. Using insect repellent and avoiding areas where ticks are likely, such as in a wooded area is recommended. So is checking yourself and your children when coming in from outdoors.

“The importance of checking for ticks after coming inside is even more important when it comes to Powassan virus because we believe that the tick being attached for only 15 to 30 minutes could potentially transmit Powassan virus to you.” Mullins said.

The virus is spread to people through the bite of an infected tock black-legged, or ‘deer’ tick. Between 2016 and 2020, ten cases of Powassan virus infection ( POWV) Associated illness were reported in Connecticut. Two of the infections were fatal.  

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