Infant infected with rare tick-borne illness is first case in Connecticut history: 7 things to know

A five-month-old infant in Connecticut was infected with Powassan virus, a tick-borne illness, in November 2016, becoming the first case of Powassan virus in Connecticut history, according to a CDC report.

Here are seven things to know about Powassan virus and this case in particular.

1. Roughly 75 cases of POW virus were reported in the U.S. in the last 10 years, with a median of seven cases per year. Cases occur most frequently in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions of the nation.

2. Ticks can transmit the virus quickly, within 15 minutes of attachment.

3. The virus can cause a range of symptoms, and some people may exhibit no symptoms at all, according to the CDC. Common symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties and seizures. It can also cause encephalitis and meningitis, as the virus targets the central nervous system. About half of those infected have permanent neurological symptoms, and 10 percent of POW virus infections are fatal.

4. In the Connecticut case, the five-month-old infant developed fever, vomiting and right-sided facial twitching, which progressed into seizures. He was admitted to Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford, according to the Washington Post.

5. The infant's parents noted a tick had been on the infant for less than three hours, and, after an MRI, lumbar puncture and other tests, the infectious disease specialist at the hospital ordered a test for POW virus, which came back positive.

6. There is no treatment for POW virus, but the infant in this case was given anticonvulsants. Four months after the illness, the infant had normal motor function, but did favor his left side, according to the CDC.

7. "It is important for clinicians to consider POWV disease whenever a patient in a tick-endemic area is evaluated for encephalitis," the CDC report concludes. The author also stressed the importance of tick checks and using tick repellents.

Copyright © 2023 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars