Report: Several Mass. Ticks Test Positive For Powassan Virus

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AMHERST, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — At least three ticks within the last three weeks have tested positive for Powassan virus in Massachusetts, a new Amherst-based report says.

According to Tick Report, the rare virus is typically found on Cape Cod, but ticks found positive for Powassan were found in Carlisle, Newton, and Mattapoisett.

WBZ's Madison Rogers spoke with the Education Director at Tick Report Paul Killinger, who says June is the peak season for ticks.

"Seeing three this early in the year and in a year that has been pretty slow is a little bit strange. It's something we want to keep an eye on, it's a very serious illness— fatalities are very much not the norm, as far as we understand it," Killinger said. Officials say the Powassan virus recently killed a 90-year-old woman from Connecticut.

The Powassan virus can be transmitted much quicker than Lyme disease, the Tick Report says.

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"We had a very cold spring that really delayed the tick season by about a month or so. We've received fewer ticks by this point than we typically do by this time in June. Finding three ticks that are Powassan-positive is a little bit high," Killinger said.

Killinger says that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health estimates that 80 percent or more of people who are exposed to the virus develop antibodies and fight it off without any symptoms at all.

WBZ's Madison Rogers (@madisonwbz) reports.

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