DPH: Man diagnosed with first case of Powassan virus in Connecticut

A man from Windham was diagnosed with the first case of Powassan virus in Connecticut in 2022.
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 12:45 PM EDT|Updated: May. 4, 2022 at 11:33 PM EDT
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Conn. (WFSB) – A man from Windham was diagnosed with the first case of Powassan virus in Connecticut in 2022.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) says the Powassan virus is contracted through tick bites.

Hiker Kaelyn Chi said, “I found a tick on myself after a hike it didn’t bite me, thank goodness, and I think after that I was more cautious.”

Heading outdoors might be part of your plans so experts urge you to be careful since ticks are infecting earlier than usual

“I lived in Vermont for a summer, and I thought about it a lot then, but didn’t think about it today,” said hiker Cheyanne Sebolt.

According to the DPH, there were a total of twelve cases of Powassan in Connecticut from 2017 to 2021. Officials say two of those cases were fatal.

“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,” says DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani.

DPH officials say patients who have this infection develop symptoms anywhere from a week to a month after infection.

Virgina Bieluch M.D with Hartford Healthcare said, “people who come in contact with this virus from a tick will have no symptom or very mild flu like. In some cases, you can become quite ill with this virus and develop nausea, vomiting, headache, seizure, confusion.”

Prevention is key. Especially since virus transmission could happen in less than an hour.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’s Dr. Goudarz Molaei said, “ten percent of those that are in infected with Powassan virus and show symptoms they will die.”

Covering your body with long sleeves is useful. Then dry your clothes under high heat to kill the ticks.

“Spray their clothes before they put their clothes on with pesticides in order to get some kind of protection. After the outdoor activity it’s important for them to do a tick check within 2 and 3 hours of outdoor activities,” said Molaei.

It’s not just humans you need to worry about. Experts say check on your pets and your animals

The Connecticut Department of Public Health released a list of how to avoid tick bites:

  • Avoid areas where ticks are likely to be, such as in in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. Ticks are active from spring to fall and may also be active on warmer days during winter.
  • Consider the use of CDC-recommended mosquito repellents, containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or 2-undecanone, and apply according to directions, when outdoors.
  • Check yourself and your children for ticks immediately after coming indoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors may be effective in reducing the risk of tick-borne disease.
  • Examine clothing, gear, and pets carefully after coming indoors. Tumble dry clothing for 10 minutes to kill ticks that were carried inside.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about the best tick prevention products for your dog.
  • Consider treating items such as boots, clothing, and hiking or camping gear with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin.

For more information on the Powassan virus, click here.

Man diagnosed with first case of Powassan virus in CT