Powassan virus on the rise in the US?

  • Thread starter Astronuc
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Rise Virus
  • #1


Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
In early May, a woman in her 90s was hospitalized in Connecticut with a strange assortment of symptoms: confusion, nausea, chest pain, chills, and fever. Two weeks later, on May 17, she died. The culprit was a blacklegged tick, a minuscule arachnid about the size of a sesame seed when fully grown.

Blacklegged ticks, commonly known as deer ticks, carry a wide range of illnesses. They’re best known for carrying Lyme disease, a sickness that causes a rash, fatigue, fever, and other unpleasant, sometimes debilitating, symptoms. The tick that killed the woman in Connecticut was carrying a disease that is far rarer and deadlier than Lyme: It’s called Powassan virus, or POWV. Blacklegged ticks carrying Powassan kill one in 10 of the people who develop severe symptoms. Half of those who survive a serious bout of the illness continue to experience the effects of the disease, such as loss of muscle mass and recurring headaches, for the rest of their lives.

The fatality in Connecticut is the second Powassan-related death in the United States this year. In April, someone in Maine died in the hospital after contracting the illness from a tick bite. Two deaths in the span of a couple of months may not sound like a lot, but they represent what looks like a significant rise in the disease that’s concerning experts. The 134 cases documented in the U.S. between 2016 and 2020 represent a number 300 percent higher than in the previous five-year period. And the cases that are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, are most likely the symptomatic cases, typically the ones that land people in hospitals.

Certainly ticks have been a major problem in the NE US with respect to Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Babesiosis, and now we have Powassan virus to add to the list of concerns.


We find a variety of ticks in our area, so we are very careful. My wife has managed to get infected from a tick bite, which was treated with antibiotics. Several friends and associates have either had Ehrlichiosis or Babesiosis, all treated with antibiotics. The virus is another matter.
  • Like
Likes Lnewqban, Andrew Mason and Drakkith

Answers and Replies

  • #2
I had a tick bite a few years ago. I removed it and took it to my doctor who sent it to the lab for analysis. I didn't contract anything but wanted to give my doctor a head start in case I started showing signs of illness or dementia. Bottom line: wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when walking in tall grass.

  • Like
Likes Astronuc and Lnewqban
  • #3
A 3-year-old boy in Pennsylvania was diagnosed with a dangerous and debilitating tick-borne disease after his mom spotted a tick while he went swimming in the neighbor's pool.

On June 15th, Jonny Simoson was invited to join a "neighborhood bestie" at his pool. "Jonny never turns down a chance for a swim so we headed over!" the toddler's mom, Jamie, . . .

As the kids had fun, Jamie noticed something on his back. "A DREADED tick," she wrote. Given that Jonny's older sister Jessica was diagnosed with Lyme disease three years ago, the mom had become something of an expert in detecting the little creatures.

"We successfully removed the non-embedded or engorged tick and wrapped up our swim date with some surprise S'mores," Jamie said about the seemingly uneventful day on Facebook.

"He didn't necessarily have any marks on his back shoulder until a few days later; there was just a tiny red bump. That was it," Jamie added to the The New York Post.

Two weeks later, however, Jonny's daycare noticed he was acting differently: "he was mopey, had no appetite and complaining of a headache," Jamie posted on Facebook.
We live in a tick susceptible area, so we check the dog and ourselves after being in the backyard. I have found ticks on the dog and crawling on me. So far, I've escaped any illness. My wife however had a bout with Ehrlichiosis. I become very good at spotting ticks in the brush. I usually find them on stalks of grass and brush, often about 8 to 18 inches (20 to 46 cm) above the ground with the antennae out to catch a ride on whatever animal passes by. I've also found them crawling on the ground in leaf litter.
  • Sad
Likes pinball1970

Suggested for: Powassan virus on the rise in the US?