Powassan Virus: Highlights

Powassan virus is a kind of tick-borne flavivirus and is associated with mosquito-borne viruses like the West Nile virus. This virus was discovered in 1958 in Powassan, Ontario, thus, the name Powassan was given.

How is Powassan Virus transmitted?

  • An individual can get infected with the Powassan virus disease if they receive a bite from the tick infected with this virus.
  • A type of this virus called lineage 2 or deer tick virus is transmitted from the black-legged or deer tick. This tick also spreads Lyme disease. This type of tick is generally found in Minnesota. In Minnesota, a person has the highest chance of being infected from April to July and September to October by a black-legged tick.
  • The lineage 1 type of this virus is transmitted from a species of tick that mostly feeds on squirrels and woodchucks and do not affect humans much. These types of ticks are also stumbled upon in Minnesota, but humans rarely contact them.

What symptoms can be seen in a person infected with Powassan Virus?

A lot of the people who get infected with this virus get only mild symptoms while some don’t have any symptoms. The symptoms usually can be seen within 1 to 4 weeks of receiving a bite from an infected tick. The symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Meningitis
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Brain Swelling
  • Seizures

Patients who suffered severe forms of this virus can develop symptoms like memory problems and headaches. In some rare cases, death also occurs.

What is the diagnosis and treatment of this virus?

An infected person must visit a doctor immediately to get diagnosed and receive proper treatment. The diagnosis is established on:

  • physical check-up
  • any history of getting exposed to tick habitat
  • laboratory tests that can confirm the diagnosis of this virus

To date, there is no exact medicine that can be used to treat an individual suffering from this disease. Patients who are suffering from severe forms of illness due to this virus might require respiratory support as well as hospitalization.

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