What you need to know about the tick-borne Powassan virus

The worst part of tick season is upon us, and officials are warning that tick-borne diseases such as Powassan virus disease are on the rise.

The first fatal case of the year was confirmed this month in Maine: 58-year-old Robert J. Weymouth died of complications from the disease.

Weymouth’s widow is now working to raise awareness of the disease, which is often much more serious than Lyme disease and can lead to serious neurological problems such as swelling of the brain or spinal cord.

Annemarie Weymouth said her husband did not find a tick until his symptoms started, and that the couple was unaware of the Powassan virus before his diagnosis.

“My husband and I, we have cats, we are aware of ticks, we did tick checks, we knew about Lyme disease,” she said. “I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Powassan.”

Even more troubling, Weymouth said, was how unfamiliar the medical professionals who treated her husband with Powassan seemed to be. He spent weeks in a hospital before they found the source of his symptoms.

“We’re literally covered for ticks in Maine,” she said. “I don’t know why it’s not a bigger thing.”

We asked experts some frequently asked questions about Powassan virus disease. This is what they said.

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