Connecticut man suffers from deadly brain infection cause by Powassan virus

A Connecticut man is recovering at home after suffering a case of the rare Powassan virus, state officials reports.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) confirmed last week that a man between 50 and 59 years old fell ill in March, and suffered a severe illness that affected his central nervous system and required hospitalization.

It is the second high profile case of the rare, tick-borne, virus in the region, with Maine reporting a death from the Powassan virus just three weeks ago.

The highly deadly virus attacks a person’s brain and nervous system, and has no vaccine or known effective treatments or cures.

Connecticut officials report that a man in his 50s in the state suffered from a rare case of the Powassan virus in March.  They confirmed that he was bitten by a tick, the usual cause for the rare disease (file photo)

Connecticut officials report that a man in his 50s in the state suffered from a rare case of the Powassan virus in March. They confirmed that he was bitten by a tick, the usual cause for the rare disease (file photo)

Blacklegged ticks are generally associated with the rare brain infection.  The CDC reports that they are most common in the Northeastern region of the United States, which includes Connecticut and Maine

Blacklegged ticks are generally associated with the rare brain infection. The CDC reports that they are most common in the Northeastern region of the United States, which includes Connecticut and Maine

The virus is spread from animal to human usually via a tick or woodchuck bite. Officials confirmed that this man was bitten by a tick, and warn others to take precautions.

‘The identification of a Connecticut resident with Powassan virus associated illness emphasizes the need to take actions to prevent tick bites from now through the late fall,’ said Dr Manisha Juthani, commissioner of the (DPH) said in a statement.

‘Using insect repellent, avoiding areas where ticks are likely, and checking carefully for ticks after being outside can reduce the chance of you or your children being infected with this virus.’

The virus is most commonly associated with blacklegged ticks, which are most frequent in the northeastern regions of the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A person will often feel symptoms of the virus somewhere between a week and a month after the tick bite.

Around one in every ten people that are infected with the virus will die, officials report. Half of infected persons are likely to experience some sort of long term symptoms as well, officials believe.

Many who are infected may not even know so, though, as a majority of cases are totally asymptomatic.

Last month, the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) reported that an unnamed man had died from the virus, the first case reported this year in the US

The Maine man was reported to have suffered severe neurological symptoms as a result of his infection, one of the normal symptoms of the virus.

Experts at the Maine CDC warned that people who may be camping or hiking in a wooded or bushy area should be weary of ticks.

There are no treatments or cures for the Powassan virus, an extremely deadly brain infection that causes significant nervous system and neurological symptoms and kills around 10% of those it infects (file photo)

There are no treatments or cures for the Powassan virus, an extremely deadly brain infection that causes significant nervous system and neurological symptoms and kills around 10% of those it infects (file photo)

People should avoid going into deep brush in the state, and instead stick to established trails and routes.

A person should also make sure to cover up to avoid being bitten, and also used bug spray to ward off any critters.

If a person does enter an area where there is a high risk of being exposed to a tick, they should make sure to regularly check themselves for bites, and make sure to shower and thoroughly wash themselves and their clothes after.

‘Ticks are active and looking for a host to bite right now,’ director of the Maine CDC Nirav D. Shah said, as reported by WMTW.

‘I urge Maine people and visitors to take steps that prevent tick bites.’

The virus is named for the city it was discovered in, Powassan, Ontario, where it was discovered in a young boy in 1958.

It causes around 25 infections in the US every year.

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