Ohio officials reported Thursday on the first case of Powassan Virus Disease (POW) in the state in Columbiana County. The patient, a resident of the Lisbon area was suspected to have POW and has been hospitalized since being admitted to Akron Children’s Hospital in October.
The diagnosis was confirmed by the laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) plans to conduct surveillance in Columbiana County for ticks that may carry this virus in the coming weeks.
POW is a tickborne illness that cannot directly be transmitted from person-to-person. In Ohio, the virus may be transmitted to people most commonly by the blacklegged tick. Blacklegged or “deer” ticks remain active as long as the temperature is above freezing and the ground is not frozen or covered with snow.
Symptoms of POW range greatly in severity from asymptomatic to life-threatening neurological disorders. These symptoms could include headache, fever, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties seizures and death. Illness onset from the time of the tick bite can range from one week to one month. There is currently not an approved treatment or vaccine for POW.
According to the CDC, approximately 100 cases of POW were reported in the United States during the past 10 years.
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