Rare, tick-borne Powassan virus confirmed in Dutchess County

A rare, sometimes fatal tick-borne virus has been confirmed in Dutchess County.

Allison Kaufman, county public health advisor, said a case of the virus was confirmed in late July. The person who contracted the virus reported they had been ill since June, Kaufman said.

It is the second confirmed case of the virus in 2018; the first was confirmed in Columbia County in June.

“I think residents need to keep in mind this is a very serious disease but also a very rare disease,” Kaufman said. “The level of concern has to be proportional to the level of risk.”

She said county residents should maintain diligence in preventing tick bites to not only avoid the Powassan virus but also Lyme disease, anaplasmosis disease and babesiosis disease.

Powassan virus has symptoms that range from mild, flu-like symptoms to life-threatening encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

Kaufman said there is no “grace period” of tick attachment before the Powassan virus is transmitted. The virus could be transmitted in as little as 15 minutes as opposed to the 24-hour period connected with Lyme disease.

“Lint rollers can remove visible ticks crawling on clothes without having to touch the tick,” Kaufman said.  Video here
Most Americans know that ticks can make them sick, and many take steps to avoid them.
Four cases were reported in the state last year, including one reported in Dutchess County. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, 21 cases of Powassan virus were reported between 2007 and 2016 in the state.

State and county health officials urge outdoors enthusiasts to take steps to protect themselves from tick-borne diseases.

These include:

  • Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily, as well as enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
  • Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
  • Consider using insect repellent.
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors, preferably within two hours, to wash off and more easily find ticks.
  • Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day and remove ticks promptly. Also, check children and pets.

The mid-Hudson Valley, and Dutchess County in particular, have been a hot spot for Lyme disease, also a tick-borne illness, for years. More than 12,000 cases were diagnosed in the county between 2000 and 2016, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  Video here on Ella Buss who has Lyme.

Ryan Santistevan:; 845-437-4809; Twitter: @SantistevanRyan



Please know that just because something is rarely reported doesn’t mean it’s rare.

  1. Powassan can be spread in minutes
  2. Lyme can be spread in hours – it does not take 24-72 hours:  Get ticks off you ASAP!
  3. We really need to revisit this idea of a “grace period” with tick attachment.  Really?

I recognized the little face in the second video on Ella Buss who has Lyme Disease.  Here is her story:



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