Powassan virus – United States

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A man from Windham, connecticut, US, has tested positive for Powassan virus and is the first case in the state this year. The man is between 50 and 59 years old and became ill during the fourth week of March.

Laboratory tests done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Laboratory in Ft. Collins, Colorado, confirmed the presence of antibodies to Powassan virus. The man, who was hospitalized with a central nervous system disease and had a known tick bite, has been discharged and is recovering at home.

Photo: Tick-borne encephalitis virus electron micrograph.

Powassan virus is transmitted by ticks. It is found in North America and in the Russian Far East. It is named after the town of Powassan, Ontario, where it was identified in a young boy who eventually died from it. It can cause encephalitis, an infection of the brain.

Powassan virus infection is rarely diagnosed as a cause of encephalitis; however, when it is, Powassan encephalitis is severe, and neurologic sequelae are common.

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