Powassan virus is named after a town in Ontario, Canada where it was identified in a young boy who later died from it. Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, seizures and hearing and memory loss. Many of these symptoms stem from the virus causing encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, which in turn can lead to death.
A person in Northern Virginia has reportedly contracted the virus. The virus is known to be in the Great Lakes region of the US and Canada and the Northeast US. So far there have not been any cases reported in Maryland or West Virginia. 5 cases of the virus were reported in Pennsylvania between 2011 and 2017.
According to statistics held by the CDC, one case of the virus was reported in Virginia in 2009 but hasn't appeared again until now.
There are currently no vaccines or antiviral drugs to combat Powassan virus. Health officials say the best measure against being infected is to wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and use tick repellent, and check for ticks after spending time outdoors.
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