Man dies of rare infection caused by tick bite

A man from Maine, United States, died of a rare brain infection after being bitten by a tick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

He had severe neurological symptoms, a condition that is normally triggered by the virus.

The rare virus called Powassan is transmitted by ticks of the genus Ixodes and can reach the brain causing a lethal infection. There is no known cure, vaccine or antiviral treatments for the disease.

tick

Credit: Ladislav Kubeš/istockMan dies of rare infection caused by tick bite

Cases of the Powassan virus are extremely rare. According to the CDC, only 25 cases are reported each year nationwide.

Symptoms

In addition to neurological symptoms, infection with this virus causes fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, or memory loss.

Signs of infection usually appear between a week and a month after the tick bite. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that most people infected with the virus are asymptomatic.

People with serious illness often need to be hospitalized for support with breathing, staying hydrated, or reducing swelling in the brain.

Approximately half of people who survive the severe form of the disease have long-term health problems, such as recurring headaches, loss of muscle mass and strength, and memory problems.

Diagnosis is based on signs and symptoms, a history of possible exposure to ticks, and laboratory tests of blood or spinal fluid.

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