Maine resident dies as rare Powassan virus claims year’s first victim

A tick can be seen in this picture. — AFP/File 

Maine health officials have reported this year’s first death from the Powassan virus case in a Sagadahoc County resident, saying the deceased adult had developed neurologic symptoms, reported Fox News Friday.

The case was also confirmed by the state’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The resident was declared dead after becoming infected with the virus.

Powassan cases are very rare in the US with 25 cases being reported each year since 2015. Maine has also identified 15 other cases including new four cases last year.

Those who get infected do not show symptoms. However, for those who show symptoms, the time from getting bitten to unwell can range from a week up to a month which includes fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures or memory loss, and some people may experience serious neurologic problems, like brain or spinal cord inflammation.

Since 2015, it was the third death recorded by Powassan in the state.

The virus is contracted as an infected deer tick or woodchuck tick bites people. These ticks are active when the temperature is above freezing, but they are reportedly more active in the spring, summer and fall seasons.

About 10% of those with severe disease die.

The ticks are found in shrubby and leafy areas and are present in all 16 counties of Maine.

The department advised that they are currently active, so anyone spending time outdoors should take steps to limit their exposure to ticks. 

The department also said: “People to make sure they are taking precautions in areas where ticks may live, including wearing light-coloured clothing, covering arms and legs, tucking pants into socks, using an EPA-approved repellent and checking for ticks daily and after any outdoor activity.”

Officials also suggested people “to remove their clothing when they return home and put them in the dryer before washing, using high heat for 10-15 minutes to kill any crawling ticks.”

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