Published On: Thu, Dec 26th, 2013

Powassan death in Maine, CDC release tick borne stats

A 73-year-old woman from South Thomaston woman died from the relatively rare Powassan (POWV) virus, according to a Portland Press Herald report Wednesday.

The report by Edward Murphy notes that Marilyn Ruth Snow, a well-known watercolor artist, died last week of Powassan virus after being bitten by a tick in early November. Her daughter, Susie Whittington, said the virus was particularly virulent, “She just kept getting sicker and sicker,” Whittingon said, and died at Maine Medical Center on Dec. 18.

''black-legged ticks'', Ixodes scapularis Image/CDC

”black-legged ticks”, Ixodes scapularis

The Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that Snow’s blood tests, acute and convalescent serum screened positive for Powassan at CDC Fort Collins on December 13, 2013.

The Top 10 Infectious Disease and Outbreak News stories of 2013

POWV is transmitted through the bite of an infected deer (black-legged) tick. However, as Murphy reports, the virus can be transmitted via woodchuck ticks also. The POW virus can be transmitted in as little as 15 minutes. Since POW is a virus, antibiotics are not effective. Signs and symptoms of POW infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. People with severe POW virus illness often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain that may occur.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2001 and 2012, POWV neuroinvasive disease cases have been reported in Maine (2), Michigan (1), Minnesota (19), New York (13), Pennsylvania (1), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (10). These cases occur primarily in the late spring, early summer, and mid-fall when ticks are most active.

The Maine CDC also released data on other tick borne diseases in the state showing that they were on the increase in 2013.

As of December 16, 2013 Maine CDC has 91 confirmed and probable cases of Anaplasmosis compared to 52 cases in 2012. Cases were reported in 11 counties with Knox county reporting the highest number of cases (25), followed by Cumberland (22) and York (17) counties.

They also reported 36 confirmed and probable cases of Babesiosis compared to 10 cases in 2012. Cases were reported in 6 counties (Cumberland, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Penobscot and York) with York county reporting the highest number of cases (17) followed by Cumberland (9) and Knox (7) counties.

As far as Lyme disease, the Maine CDC reported  1,285 confirmed and probable cases in 2013 compared to 1,111 in 2012.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Tick-Borne Disease | Find Me A Cure says:

    […] Powassan death in Maine, CDC release tick borne stats […]

  2. Maine CDC Director, Dr Sheila Pinette discusses Powassan virus - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] about everyone is familiar with the tickborne bacterial disease, Lyme disease; however, last month, a Knox County, Maine woman died after a several week long battle with a tickborne virus many people are unfamiliar with called Powassan […]

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