Maine resident dies of rare illness spread by infected tick

April 20, 2022 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A person in eastern Maine has died from a rare virus spread from the bite of an infected tick, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The person from Waldo County contracted Powassan virus, developed neurologic symptoms and died while in the hospital, the center said in a news release. The person likely became infected in Maine, it said.

Cases of the virus are rare in the United States, with about 25 cases reported each year since 2015.

Maine has identified 14 cases since 2010.

Humans become infected with Powassan through the bite of an infected deer or woodchuck tick.

Symptoms of Powassan virus infection usually start one week to one month after the tick bite. People who get sick may have fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, or memory loss, the center said.

Some people may experience serious neurologic problems, such as brain or spinal cord inflammation. Severe infection may result in death. Many people infected with Powassan virus do not get sick.