Second case of tick-borne illness Powassan confirmed in Saratoga County

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CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) –  The New York State Department of Health (DOH) is expanding their area of collection sites of ticks in Saratoga County after announcing that a second confirmed case and a probable third case of Powassan virus has been found in residents in Saratoga County on Tuesday.

The first confirmed case was Charles Smith, of Gansevoort, who sadly died on June 8th, the second victim is currently hospitalized.

“It wasn’t surprising but we want to investigate what’s going on and see if it’s a coincidence that these cases occurred in the same county or if there’s something else larger going on,” Melissa Prusinski, Research Scientist at the Wadsworth Center, said.

The DOH collected 200 hundred ticks in Saratoga County this year at five sites and did not find any positive for Powassan virus. Health officials say it’s rare compared to Lyme disease but without being able to sample a larger population it’s hard to know the true statistic.

“Dragging only samples about one percent of the population at any given time so 99 percent of the ticks are elsewhere,” Prusinski said.

There are a number of important things you can do to protect yourself from ticks.

“What people may want to do is ramp up the amount of times that they check themselves,” Bryon Backenson, Epidemiologist at NYS DOH, said.

Another thing that can help if you’re going to be out in nature is to wear very light colored clothing and tuck your pants into your socks.

You can also wear 30 percent DEET repellent which lasts four to eight hours and also some symptoms to be aware of for Powassan virus.

“Kind of the earlier signs of that is a horrible headache. It’s a headache that won’t go away,” Backenson said.

The department says the cases of Powassan occurred in three different towns in Saratoga County.

“To try and figure out if there a higher infection rate or has the infection rate moved from zero to something else that maybe we haven’t picked up yet.”

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