Article from Portland Press Herald: Maine CDC reports death from exposure to rare tick-borne Powassan virus

The Sagadahoc County resident is the first Mainer to contract the disease in 2023.

Ixodes scapularis, adult female
Adult Female Deer Tick

By Eric Russell, Staff Writer

A Sagadahoc County resident has died from exposure to the Powassan virus, a rare tick-borne illness.

The adult developed neurologic symptoms after being exposed and died in a hospital, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. No other identifying information was available, which is typical in these cases.

This is the state’s first case of Powassan virus this year. The CDC has tracked hundreds of cases of more common tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and babesiosis so far in 2023.

Powassan is exceedingly rare – only about 25 cases are reported annually in the entire U.S. – but it can be serious. Since 2015, Maine has identified 15 cases, including four last year. There have been two other deaths in recent years. One was a Waldo County resident in April 2022, and the other was a longtime Portland educator who contracted the virus in 2019 and died in January 2022. Her family disclosed the cause of death in her obituary.

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