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Powassan virus warning in Suffolk County

Experts warn of increases in tick-borne illness called Powassan virus. Summer is nearly here, and it’s bringing fears of a rare tick-borne disease called Powassan.

The Powassan virus (POW) is a rare but serious disease that can be spread to humans by infected ticks quickly after the initial bite.

For comparison, while it takes a tick carrying Lyme disease nearly 24 hours to pass the infection on to a human host, a tick with POW can transfer the virus in as little as 15 minutes.

Once a human has contracted the disease, Powassan virus can cause severe inflammation of the brain and the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.

Due to the severe neurological impact of the disease, about 10 percent of all POW cases are fatal, with about 50 percent of cases resulting in permanent brain damage.