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Fairfield County's Third Case Of Tick-Borne Powassan Virus Reported In Ridgefield

The black-legged tick, more commonly known as the deer tick, is known for transferring Powassan Virus
The black-legged tick, more commonly known as the deer tick, is known for transferring Powassan Virus Photo Credit: File

A fourth person in Connecticut is recovering from the tick-borne Powassan Virus, this time in Ridgefield, the state Department of Public Health announced.

Powassan virus is spread to people through the bite of black-legged ticks, the Department of Health (DPH) said. It was only added to the list of statewide reportable diseases this year.

Other cases of Powassan virus infections were reported in New Canaan, New Preston, and Newtown.

“This is a rare, emerging infection in the United States and human cases have been identified in Connecticut. The virus can cause severe disease. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Powassan virus infection. The best way to prevent Powassan virus disease is to prevent tick bites."

The incubation period for Powassan virus disease ranges anywhere from one to four weeks.

Initial symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, and generalized weakness. The disease can progress to encephalitis, meningoencephalitis, or aseptic meningitis. Symptoms of encephalitis may include altered mental status, seizures, speech problems, paresis or paralysis, movement disorders, and cranial nerve palsies.

Approximately 10 percent of Powassan virus neuroinvasive disease cases are fatal and about half of survivors have long-lasting neurologic deficits, such as headaches, muscle weakness, focal paralysis, or cognitive difficulties.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “no Powassan virus vaccines are available for use in humans. In the absence of a vaccine, prevention of Powassan virus disease depends on personal protective measures to decrease exposure to infected ticks. This includes avoiding wooded and bushy areas with high grass in endemic areas, using repellents to discourage tick attachment, and finding and removing ticks before they have a chance to attach.”

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