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Dutchess: Powassan Virus

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    Posted: October 21 2017 at 9:46am

Rare, tick-borne illness confirmed in Dutches

John W. Barry, Poughkeepsie JournalPublished 9:03 a.m. ET Oct. 21, 2017

One case of an extremely rare, sometimes fatal tick-borne illness has been confirmed in Dutchess County, according to the state Department of Health.

The confirmed case of Powassan virus is one of just four in the state this year, officials said. The other three were in Saratoga County over the summer.

New York State has had only 27 confirmed cases since 2000. Powassan virus has caused death in about 10 percent of cases nationwide.

POWASSAN VIRUS: Officials boost surveillance

TICKS: Program would fund identification programs

Powassan virus is a rare viral disease with symptoms that range from mild, flu-like symptoms to life-threatening encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. State and county health officials urged outdoors enthusiasts to take steps to protect themselves from tick-borne diseases.

These include:

  • Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily, as well as enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
  • Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
  • Consider using insect repellent.
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors, preferably within two hours, to wash off and more easily find ticks.
  • Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day and remove ticks promptly. Also, check children and pets.

The mid-Hudson Valley, and Dutchess County in particular, have been a hot spot forLyme disease, also a tick-borne illness, for years.

There were 665 cases of Lyme disease in Dutchess County in 2014, according to data from New York state. By comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed 225 cases in the county in 2014, according to data from the federal agency.

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