Two people in Connecticut have tested positive for a rare, potentially dangerous tick-borne infection known as the Powassan virus.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that two people between the ages of 50 and 79 and are from Fairfield and New Haven counties tested positive for the virus earlier this year, representing the first two cases this year.
From 2016 to 2020, a total of 10 cases were reported in Connecticut, including two last year. Of those cases, two proved to be deadly, officials said.
The latest cases led to hospitalizations for the two with central nervous system diseases. They’ve since been treated, discharged from the hospital, and are recovering.
The virus is spread to people through the bite of an infected tick black-legged or “deer” tick. DPH said it takes between a week to a month after the bite of an infected tick to develop symptoms.
“The identification of two Connecticut residents with Powassan virus-associated illness emphasizes the need to take actions to prevent tick bites while ticks are most active, from now through the late fall," acting DPH Commissioner Deidre Gifford stated.
"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.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “although still rare, the number of reported cases of people sick from Powassan virus has increased in recent years.”
Most cases in the US occur in the northeast and Great Lakes regions from late spring through mid-fall when ticks are most active. There are no vaccines to prevent or medicines to treat Powassan virus disease.
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