First Fatal Case of Tick-Borne Virus in Maryland Raises Public Health Concerns

Maryland has reported its first travel-related fatality due to the Powassan virus, an uncommon tick-borne illness originating from Canada. 

Potential Threat

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As the Powassan virus looms as a potential threat, health officials emphasize the importance of vigilance in tick-prone areas across the United States.

First Virus-Related Death

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The first documented case of a Powassan virus-related death in Maryland sent shockwaves through the medical community. 

From Canada to Maryland

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The deceased individual, who contracted the virus while in Canada, tragically passed after returning to Maryland. 

Preventative Practices a Must 

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While local transmission of the virus is not deemed a concern, health officials stress the significance of adhering to tick-preventative practices when visiting or residing in tick-prone environments.

Uptick in Ticks 

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The Powassan virus, primarily spread through the bite of an infected tick, has witnessed a recent uptick in reported cases. 

Rare but Concerning 

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Although the virus remains rare, its emergence poses a growing public health concern. 

CDC Speaks on Transmission

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that it is not typically transmitted from person to person, except in exceptional cases involving blood transfusion.

Symptoms Include

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The symptoms of Powassan infection include fever, headache, vomiting, and, more severely, coordination difficulties, memory and speech problems, and potentially, encephalitis and meningitis. 

Difficult Detection 

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It is noteworthy that Powassan often presents with no symptoms, further complicating detection. 

Increasing Cases 

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Throughout 2022, 44 Powassan virus cases were reported to the CDC, resulting in seven fatalities. Alarming trends continue into 2023, with 28 reported cases so far.

Powassan – a Vegan’s Best Friend?

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One rare but odd symptom that continues to confound doctors is the development of an allergy to red meat. 

Range of Reactions

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Allergic reactions caused from these tick bites can range from an uncomfortable rash to a full on anaphylactic reaction. 

Confusing Timelines 

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While many common allergic reactions often happen immediately after consuming the food, the red meat reaction from the tick can often show up hours later, making it hard for people to connect the dots. 

Northeastern & Great Lake Regions – Beware 

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The CDC underscores that the majority of cases occur in the northeastern and Great Lakes regions, coinciding with the active tick season from late spring to mid-fall. 

No Vaccines Available 

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This distressing reality is compounded by the lack of vaccines or specific antiviral medications for the virus, leaving prevention as the most viable road ahead.

An Alarming Increase 

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The Powassan virus represents a formidable adversary, with an alarming increase in cases and the start of fatalities. 

Be Vigilant, Stay Safe

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In the absence of a vaccine or curative treatment, vigilance, and proactive tick prevention practices have become the only shield against this tick-borne illness.

The post First Fatal Case of Tick-Borne Virus in Maryland Raises Public Health Concerns first appeared on The Public Slate.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Malikov Aleksandr. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.

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