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Powassan virus in the northeastern USA

22 Aug 2023

On 21 August 2023, the Connecticut Department of Public Health reported 4 cases of Powassan virus infection. The Rhode Island Department of Health has also reported one death from Powassan virus infection in July 2023. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a further 11 cases in the north-eastern USA as of 15 August 2023.

Powassan virus is transmitted to humans through tick bites and occurs in the northern USA, Canada and Russia. Transmission is during the tick season which runs from late spring until autumn.

 Powassan virus can cause a flu-like illness or lead to more severe symptoms such as meningitis (brain inflammation).

Advice for Travellers

If you are planning to spend long periods of time outdoors in forests or rural areas of countries where Powassan virus occurs, you should be aware of how to avoid tick bites.

  • Higher risk activities are walking, hiking, camping, cycling, fishing, orienteering or running in rural or forested areas.

  • When travelling in high-risk areas, you should inspect your whole body daily for ticks, particularly after outdoor activities. Ticks should be removed as early as possible.

See the insect bite avoidance page for advice on how to avoid and remove ticks.