Powassan Small Risk but Worth Attention


Above, images woodchuck tick, a carrier of Powassan, courtesy University of Maine.

A Connecticut woman in her 90s in New London County died last month of the rare but often fatal Powassan virus, typically transmitted by ticks, including the woodchuck tick.

Although many people have mild symptoms, the two Connecticut cases this year, including the fatality, resulted in neurological symptoms requiring hospitalization. Massachusetts typically logs a small number of cases each year.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, one variant in the state is carried by the woodchuck tick and the other by the deer tick, also known to carry Lyme disease.

They recommend typical precautions – checking for ticks – and use substances such as DEET to discourage bites.

Mass DPH offers a downloadable brochure on preventing tick-borne illnesses.

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