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About Powassan Virus Disease

Context:

A person in the US recently died from the rare Powassan virus, marking the first fatal case in the US this year.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Powassan Virus Disease
  2. Prevention and Treatment

Powassan Virus Disease

  • Powassan virus disease is a rare but potentially serious illness caused by the Powassan virus, which is transmitted through the bite of infected ticks. The virus was first identified in Powassan, Ontario in 1958.
Transmission and Risk:
  • Not all ticks carry the Powassan virus, and not all individuals bitten by a tick will become sick.
  • The virus is transmitted to humans when an infected tick bites and remains attached for a certain duration.
  • The risk of contracting the disease is higher in areas where infected ticks are prevalent.
Symptoms:
  • In the initial stages, people infected with the Powassan virus may experience symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting, and weakness.
  • In some cases, the virus can progress to cause more severe conditions like brain infection (encephalitis) or inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).
  • Severe cases may lead to symptoms such as confusion, loss of coordination, difficulty speaking, and seizures.

Prevention and Treatment:

  • Currently, there are no specific medications available to prevent or treat Powassan virus infection.
  • Management of the disease focuses on relieving symptoms through rest, hydration, and over-the-counter pain medications.
  • It is crucial to take preventive measures when entering tick-infested areas, such as wearing protective clothing and using insect repellents containing DEET.
  • Prompt removal of attached ticks and careful inspection of the body can help reduce the risk of infection.

-Source: India today


 

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