A 90-year-old woman in Connecticut has died after being tested positive for the rare tick-borne Powassan virus a month after being bitten.
- The woman was in her 90s in New London County, which borders Rhode Island
- Health officials said he was hospitalized two weeks after the tick bite with a fever, headache, chest pain and a “mental change.”
- He died “unanswered” 14 days later, they said
- This is the second death from the virus in Maine in April this year
- The Povassan virus is rare, but kills one in 10 people infected with the virus, and half become permanently disabled, as do memory problems.
- There are no vaccines or treatments for infected people
A woman in Connecticut has died of the rare tick-borne Powassan virus a month after being bitten by a parasite.
The unnamed man was in his 90s and lived in New London County, which borders Rhode Island.
Health officials said he was admitted to hospital two weeks after being bitten by a tick in early May with a fever, headache, chest pain and a “mental change.” The patient died “unanswered” 14 days later.
This is the second death from a tick in the United States since the virus killed a man in Maine in April this year.
The Povassan virus is rare – about 28 people a year test positive for it, but one in ten people infected dies and half become disabled for life.
Without vaccines or drugs against the disease, treatment instead focuses on relieving symptoms, including respiratory and brain tumors.
The woman was 90 years old and was in New London County, which borders Rhode Island. Doctors said he died “unanswered” two weeks after he was admitted to hospital. He gave a positive assessment of the Powassan virus, which is transmitted to humans through deer or black-legged mites (shown above).
The picture above shows all the states that have detected the Povassan virus since 2011 and the number of cases they have registered in a decade (number per state).
This represents the number of cases of the Powassan virus registered in the United States. In 2019, the record number reached 39
Connecticut Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Jutani warned that “action” should be taken to prevent ticks “from now until late fall.”
He urged residents to protect their mites from insects and to stay away from long grassy areas where they are common.
What is the Powassan virus? How is it treated?
Powassan virus is a very rare but often serious disease transmitted by tick-borne infections after rodent bites.
About 28 people are infected in the United States each year, but the CDC says there are others who have not been diagnosed because they may not have symptoms.
One-tenth of them die from this condition, and half suffer from long-term disabilities, such as memory loss and muscle weakness.
People infected with the virus begin to develop symptoms only a month later and a week later.
Early symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, and muscle weakness.
However, when the virus spreads to the brain, patients experience confusion, loss of coordination, and seizures.
There is no vaccine or treatment for the disease.
Instead, doctors focus on relieving the side effects of the infection, including respiratory and brain tumors.
“You should also carefully check for ticks when you are outdoors, as this can reduce the chances of you and your family members becoming infected with this dangerous virus,” he added.
Connecticut officials today confirmed that the patient died of the Povassan virus. It is unknown whether he has any health problems.
In April, an unnamed man in Maine was hospitalized with “neurological symptoms” due to the virus and later died.
It was also the second case in Connecticut in six months, after a 50-year-old man from Windham County, north London, was diagnosed in late March.
He was hospitalized with a tick bite, but later recovered at home.
The Povassan virus is transmitted to humans from deer or black-legged mites – identified by their legs, which are similar to their names – and they transmit the disease from rodents such as rodents and ticks.
Infected people develop symptoms within a week to a month after a bite.
Early warning signs include fever, headache, vomiting, and muscle weakness.
However, when the virus spreads to the brain and central nervous system, they can cause confusion, loss of coordination, and seizures.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says people infected with the virus cannot pass it on to others.
He also notes that a number of cases may go undetected each year because they do not cause symptoms.
Deer or black-footed ticks, which carry the virus, are also responsible for infecting people with Lyme disease.
However, this disease is different from Povassan’s, as his patients suffer from the typical “bull’s eye” rash around the bite site. Although this can lead to long-term health consequences, it rarely leads to death.
The Powassan virus is most commonly reported in the northern states, but has spread to North Dakota. It has already been identified in South Carolina.
There have been more deaths from the virus this year than in 2020 – the latest – only one. The CDC has not released data for 2021.
In 2019, the United States recorded nine deaths from the virus – a record number.