Connecticut residents warned to look out for tick-borne virus

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Some ticks are carrying a potentially deadly disease, Powassan virus, which is becoming increasingly more common in Connecticut.

“Fortunately it’s a very rare disease,” said Philip Armstrong, a research scientist for the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “There are only about 10 cases that are reported nationally.”

Armstrong says the virus has been found in ticks in Bridgeport and North Branford.

“It’s definitely becoming a regional issue,” said Armstrong. “There have been human cases in neighboring states of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, up into New Hampshire and Maine.”

RELATED STORY: How to keep your family safe from tick bites

There have been no reported cases in our state, but experts say you still need to be vigilant. Possible symptoms of the virus include:

  • seizures
  • fever
  • headache
  • vomiting
  • confusion
  • speech difficulties
  • loss of coordination

Those symptoms are similar to another tick-borne illness, Lyme disease. Trumbull’s Mark Hopwood has been living with that sickness ever since he first contracted it from a tick seven years ago. He’s also a parent and says those with children need to be especially mindful of the Powassan virus. Hopwood recommends people check their kids for ticks daily, spray them with bug spray, and have them wear long pants.

If you think you or a family member may have contracted the illness, contact your healthcare provider. For more information about Powassan virus, click here.

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