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Maine CDC: Midcoast Woman Infected with Rare Tick-Borne Illness
12/19/2013 02:48 PM ET  

In an alert issued today, state health officials say the woman, who has not been identified, is hospitalized with what's thought to be Powassan encephalitis.

A woman from Maine's midcoast area is being treated for a rare tick-borne illness that in severe cases can cause neurological damage.

In an update issued today, state health officials say the woman, who has not been identified, is hospitalized with what's thought to be Powassan encephalitis. Maine Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Sheila Pinette says, if confirmed, it would be the first documented case of the illness in Maine since 2004.

Pinette says the woman was diagnosed with the illness in early December. She had no travel history, so Pinette says the disease was acquired locally.

The virus is transmitted by a bite from an infected tick. Officials say ticks in the adult stage can remain active through the winter when the temperature rises to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above.

Symptoms of Powassan include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. The infection can also lead to long-term neurologic problems, Pinette says.

Pinette says there's no specific treatment for Powassan, but those with severe cases often require hospitalization. She says several other tick-borne diseases can also be spread during the warmer days of winter, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and abesiosis.

Pinette says people should continue to take steps to avoid tick bites, such as wearing protective clothing, applying an EPA-approved insect repellant, and doing frequent body checks for ticks.

Learn more here.




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