AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday confirmed Maine's first Powassan virus infection case since 2017.
The tick-borne illness was contracted by an adult resident of southern Maine, the CDC said, who is now hospitalized in New Hampshire.
The public health agency was notified of the case this week by New Hampshire officials. It believes the person contracted the illness in Maine.
Powassan, first described in 1958, is rare in the U.S., with an average of seven cases reported each year. Maine has identified 11 cases since 2000.
The virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected woodchuck or deer tick, according to the CDC. Many people infected do not experience symptoms; however, signs and symptoms can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss.
Long-term neurologic problems may occur, including infection of the brain or the membranes around the brain and spinal cord. Death can occur, if severe.
Symptoms can begin from one week to one month after the tick bite, according to the CDC. Unlike Lyme disease, Powassan virus does not result in a rash. There is no medication to treat Powassan virus infection, though people who develop severe illness may receive treatment for their symptoms.
Maine CDC advocates to follow the "No Ticks 4 ME" approach:
- Wearing protective clothing. Light-colored clothing makes ticks easier to see and long sleeves and pants reduce exposed skin.
- Using an EPA-approved repellent and always follow the label. Clothing and gear can be treated with permethrin for longer protection.
- Using caution in tick-infested areas. Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and stay in the middle of trails whenever possible.
- Performing daily tick checks. Check for ticks immediately after exiting high-risk areas. Bathe or shower (preferably within 2 hours after being outdoors) to wash off and find ticks on your body. Conduct a full-body tick check. Also examine clothing, gear, and pets.