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Connecticut Woman Dies After Tick Bite, Department Of Health Says

Powassan virus is typically spread through the bite of an infected black-legged or deer tick, and it takes between a week and a month to develop symptoms, health officials said.
Powassan virus is typically spread through the bite of an infected black-legged or deer tick, and it takes between a week and a month to develop symptoms, health officials said. Photo Credit: Pixabay/Erik Karits

State health officials announced the death of a Connecticut resident who developed symptoms of Powassan virus weeks after she was bit by a tick.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health announced on Tuesday, June 7, that the New London County resident who was in her 90s died at the hospital on Tuesday, May 17.

Powassan virus is typically spread through the bite of an infected black-legged or deer tick, and it takes between a week and a month to develop symptoms, health officials said. 

The woman began experiencing symptoms in early May that included fever, altered mental status, headache, chills, rigors, chest pain, and nausea.

Her condition worsened over a period of two weeks before she died, the department said. 

She had a known tick bite that was removed two weeks before her symptoms started, health officials said.

Lab tests also confirmed that she had antibodies of Powassan virus, the department reported.

Health officials said she was the second patient to be diagnosed with the virus in Connecticut this year. 

The first patient is a Windham County man in his 50s who was hospitalized in late March and was later discharged to recover at home, according to the report. 

“This incident reminds us that residents need to take actions to prevent tick bites now through the late fall,” DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani said. “DPH stresses the use of insect repellent this summer and avoiding high-risk areas, such as tall grass, where ticks may be found. It’s also important to check carefully for ticks after being outside which can reduce the chance of you and your family members being infected with this dangerous virus.”

Health officials shared the following tips to prevent tick bites:

  • Avoid areas where ticks are likely to be, such as in in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. Ticks are most active from spring to fall but may also be active on warmer days during winter.
  • Consider the use of CDC-recommended mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or 2-undecanone, and apply according to directions, when outdoors.
  • Check yourself and your children for ticks immediately after coming indoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors may be effective in reducing the risk of tick-borne disease.
  • Examine clothing, gear, and pets carefully after coming indoors. Tumble dry clothing for 10 minutes to kill ticks that were carried inside.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about the best tick prevention products for your dog.
  • Consider treating items such as boots, clothing, and hiking or camping gear with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin.

Find more information about Powassan virus and how to prevent tick bites here.

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