Poughkeepsie Student Dies from Powassan virus, a Tick-borne Disease

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A Hudson Valley student from Poughkeepsie, NY passed away last week, from complications due to the Powassan virus – a disease transmitted by ticks that is similar to Lyme’s disease only much more dangerous according to the Poughkeepsie Journal.

It was a cough. A headache. Joseph Elone was tired.

Doctors were puzzled by the symptoms, but there was nothing that indicated the City of Poughkeepsie 17-year-old would collapse in front of his home on a mild August night. “The whole idea … that he just dropped dead, that just blows my mind,” Benedict Elone said. “That is unfathomable.”

The Dutchess County Department of Health issued its third health advisory in four years to local doctors about Powassan, saying the virus is suspected in this case.

In an exclusive interview with the Poughkeepsie Journal, Joseph Elone’s family talked about his life and the need for the public to be more aware of this potentially deadly tick-borne virus.

His tragic death underscores growing concern about the untreatable virus that can be transmitted via tick bite in as little as 15 minutes. Joseph Elone had a minor cough, fatigue and a headache for about two weeks but there were no signs the illness would be fatal, his family said. He visited a doctor who checked for Lyme disease and strep throat but the tests were negative.

Last month, the journal Parasites & Vectors published a study that found as many as 6 percent of ticks in some parts of the Hudson Valley carried a variant of the virus responsible for Powassan. The rate, while low compared with the percentage that carry the Lyme pathogen, was higher than researchers expected.

Locally, Powassan virus has been found in Saratoga, Albany, Rensselaer and Columbia Counties. One type of POW virus is carried by Ixodes scapularis (known as the blacklegged tick or deer tick), the same tick that transmits Lyme disease, human anaplasmosis, and babesiosis. The blacklegged tick is common in many wooded areas. This time interval is not known for POW virus, but it is likely much shorter than the time needed for Lyme disease (24-48 hours) or anaplasmosis (12-24 hours).

Living in and around the Capital Region it is inevitable you will come across ticks. Unfortunately, keeping these insects away from your property is nearly impossible, but our pest management services can help. With simple precautions and understanding how to remove a tick you can potentially avoid encounters with these biting insects. Thomas Pest Services, your Saratoga pest control experts can help reduce you and your families’ risk. If you live in Clifton Park or elsewhere in the Capital Region and need assistance getting rid of ticks , fill out our contact form today!

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