Powassan Virus

powassan virus

Tick borne disease: Powassan virus

Also known as: Deer tick fever

Disease Agent: Powassan virus

Infectious Bite Time: The infectious bite time of Powassan virus is one of the most terrifying things about the disease. With most tick-borne diseases an infected tick needs to remain attached to you for 24 hours or more for transmission to occur, with Powassan virus, this is not the case. Research has shown Powassan virus can be transmitted almost instantly (within 15 minutes), and since you rarely feel the bite of a tick, you can be infected long before you even know you are bitten.

Incubation Period: The onset of impacts from Powassan virus will begin 1 to 4 weeks after infection

Common Signs and Symptoms: Powassan virus symptoms include fever, vomiting, weakness, seizures, headaches, confusion, speech difficulties, memory problems

Serious Complications: Seizure, inflammation of the brain, inflammation of the spinal cord, permanent reoccurring headaches, muscle wasting, loss of coordination, death

Treatment: Health care options may be available, but there is no known treatment for Powassan virus. If you believe you have contracted Powassan virus consult a medical professional, early diagnosis is essential to preventing serious complications, delaying treatment can make a bad situation worse, resulting in escalated symptom severity or even death.

Notes: Powassan virus is a life-threatening condition. Powassan virus has a 10 percent fatality rate. Powassan virus gets its name from Powassan, Ontario, Canada, where a boy died from the disease in 1958, an early instance of this virus’s detection. Instances of Powassan virus have been recorded in Canada, Russia, and the United States. Most instances of the Powassan virus in the United States have occurred in the Northeast. If a tick is attached to you, there is no way of knowing if it is infected with Powassan virus, read our page on how to remove a tick and use Ticknado to prevent bites in the future.

What ticks transmit Powassan virus? Eastern blacklegged tick, Western blacklegged tick, Asian longhorned tick, Groundhog tick, “deer tick”

Primary Vector: Eastern blacklegged tick

Number of infections reported per year, United States: 50+.

Note actual number of infections may be significantly higher than reported.

The Asian longhorned tick (below) transmits powassan virus.