Case of tick-borne virus confirmed in Saratoga County

SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- The State Department of Health has confirmed a case of Powassan virus in Saratoga County. The person who contacted the virus later died.

"It's a viral disease, and because it's a virus, it's kind of sprawled out within the tick, which means as soon as that tick starts to feed, it has the potential to give you whatever it may be carrying," said Bryon Backenson, a research scientist for State Department of Health. 

This week, the Department of Health confirmed a Powassan virus case in Saratoga County following tests and studies, after learning about it last month. The DOH believes a local resident came in contact with a tick in May.

Since 2000, there have been 24 confirmed cases. This is only the second ever in the Capital Region. While the Saratoga County resident later died, right now, officials are not confirming the virus was solely responsible.

"We're not the ones who determine the cause of death," Backenson said. "That's usually the coroner or medical examiner. What the official cause of death is one thing, but it's likely that Powassan helped contribute."

According to the DOH, early symptoms of the tick-borne illness include a strong headache, nausea and vomiting. In serious cases, it can lead to meningitis. Officials say you can better protect yourself by using a tick repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants and performing tick checks.

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