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Powassan Virus Kills Albany, NY Man

Posted by Jennifer Smith on

ALBANY, N.Y. - An Albany, N.Y. man has died from a rare virus he got from a tick bite and his daughter is warning others about the danger.

He died from the Powassan virus, a more serious illness than Lyme Disease, that can cause brain swelling and death.

A deer tick can pass it to a person in just 15 minutes.

We reported on this rare illness earlier this year after a woman in Maine died from it.

There were only about 68 cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control between 2006 and 2015.

Nevertheless, Stephanie smith says her 74-year-old father, Charles, was hunting and fishing just days before he ended up in glens falls hospital on may eleventh.

Smith says her dad went to his primary care doctor for a tick bite on his arm. She says he was dismissed and not given any antibiotics or a Lyme test because he didn't have a rash.

“He had a known engorged tick,” Smith said.

While at Glens Falls Hospital, smith says her father's health started to deteriorate. Charles Smith died on June 8.

His official cause of death was ruled as Powassan Virus, a tick-borne illness.

“It's a huge, huge loss in our family,” said Smith.

Smith has another concern with the treatment of her father's case, she wants to know why the confirmed case of Powassan wasn't reported.

According to medical records she obtained from the hospital, a blood test from the state health department on May 30 was positive for Powassan.

“Whether somebody be covering it up, whether it just wasn't reported. We want to get to the bottom,” she said.

Smith went public with the information about her father's death two days after reporters questioned the state department of health.

“I don't believe the information would be out there if I did not go to the media,” she said.

State health officials in Massachusetts say there have been no cases of the Powassan virus this year, but health officials in Maine say two people were hospitalized with it earlier this year -- but they've since recovered.

How to prevent tick bites

Experts with the CDC are recommending that anyone who could be exposed to ticks take the following precautions.

Avoid ticks by avoiding wooded or bushy areas with high grass.

Use insect repellents

  • DEET-containing repellents only last a few hours, but can be sprayed on the skin
  • Treat clothes and gear with permethrin, which can last through several washings

Find and remove ticks before they can bite and attach

  • Bathe within 2 hours of being outside to find and wash off ticks
  • Conduct a full-body tick check
  • Examine clothing, gear and pets

Story re-posted from Boston 25 News

Hikers and campers are encouraged to use tick removal tools available on Deerbusters.com to protect themselves from tick-borne illnesses. Click here to learn more about the Powassan (Pow) Virus.