MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Northern Minnesota woman has died from a brain infection due to Powassan virus, marking the state’s first death from the tick-borne disease.
The woman, who was in her 60s, became ill in May after spending time outdoors and later noticing tick bites. The Minnesota Department of Health states her fatal case was likely exposed to ticks near her home.
Another likely Powassan case was identified earlier in Minnesota — an Anoka County man also in his 60s, was hospitalized with a brain infection and is now recovering at home.
The Powassan virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected tick.
Health officials say the death serves as a reminder of the importance to preventing tick bites.
“Powassan disease is caused by a virus and is not treatable with antibiotics, so preventing tick bites is crucial,” said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health.
To prevent tick-borne diseases, always use tick repellents containing DEET (up to 30 percent concentration) or permethrin when spending time areas where ticks could live. Products with DEET can be used on the skin or clothing.
Powassan virus was first detected in Minnesota in 2008.