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Rhode Island man diagnosed with rare tick-borne disease

June 29, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island resident has been diagnosed with a rare tick-borne disease that can cause muscular weakness or even paralysis, state public health officials said Tuesday.

The case of Powassan virus disease was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state Department of Health said in an emailed statement.

The case was confirmed in a previously healthy man over the age of 70 from Providence County, who developed neurological symptoms and is now recovering, officials said.

Powassan is found mostly in the Northeast and the Great Lakes regions of the U.S. and in eastern Canada. Only about 166 cases have been reported in the U.S. in the past 10 years, health officials said.

Initial symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, and weakness. It usually progresses to brain membrane inflammation, altered mental status, seizures, difficulty understanding or speaking, muscular weakness or paralysis, movement disorders, or cranial nerve palsies.

The disease can often lead to hospitalization. There is no vaccine or treatment for Powassan, so preventing exposure to ticks is the best way to avoid the disease.