Tick-borne Powassan virus reported in Massachusetts

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SHARON, Mass. (WLNE) — The Town of Sharon alerted residents that a resident contracted the tick-born Powassan virus in April.

The town said that cases of the virus have increased in recent years, and while most people never feel ill, some people suffer from meningitis or encephalitis.

Symptoms can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties, and seizures.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said that residents can prevent tick bites by taking the following steps:

  • Use a repellent with DEET. More information on choosing a repellent and how to use repellents safely is included on the DPH Public Health Fact Sheet on Tick Repellents.
  • Wear long, light-colored pants tucked into socks or boots, and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Stay on trails when walking or hiking, avoid the edge habitat where ticks are likely to be.
  • Showering immediately after potential tick exposure may help remove unattached ticks.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about tick control options for pets.
  • After spending time in an area likely to have ticks, check yourself, your children, and pets for ticks.

More information can also be found at the DPH at www.mass.gov/info-details/powassan-virus, the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/powassan/index.html and the Town of Sharon Health Department at www.townofsharon.net/health-department.

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