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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2001 Sep 7;50(35):761-4.

Outbreak of Powassan encephalitis--Maine and Vermont, 1999-2001.


Powassan (POW) virus, a North American tickborne flavivirus related to the Eastern Hemisphere's tickborne encephalitis viruses, was first isolated from a patient with encephalitis in 1958. During 1958-1998, 27 human POW encephalitis cases were reported from Canada and the northeastern United States. During September 1999-July 2001, four Maine and Vermont residents with encephalitis were found to be infected with POW virus. These persons were tested for other arbovirus infections found in the northeast after testing for West Nile virus (WNV) infection was negative. This report describes these four cases, summarizes the results of ecologic investigations, and discusses a potential association between ticks that infest medium-sized mammals and the risk for human exposure to POW virus. The findings underscore the need for personal protective measures to prevent tick bites and continued encephalitis surveillance.

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