Former US Senator of North Carolina Has Died from Powassan Virus

Rest In Peace, Senator Kay Hagan, who unexpectedly died Monday at the age of 66.

It has been widely reported that Senator Hagan was diagnosed with encephalitis in 2016, which was later confirmed to be caused by the rare Powassan virus, which is transmitted to people from ticks.

In her honor, let’s dive into what the Powassan virus is.

About Powassan Virus

According to the CDC, Powassan virus is spread to people by a bite from a tick that carries the virus. Although still rare, the number of reported cases of people sick from this virus has increased in recent years.

“Most cases in the United States occur in the northeast and Great Lakes regions from late spring through mid-fall when ticks are most active. There are no vaccines to prevent or medicines to treat Powassan virus disease.” – CDC

The transmission of the virus — unlike many other tick-borne microbes — can occur very quickly, as soon as 15 minutes after tick attachment.

What Symptoms of Powassan Virus?

Symptoms may include fever, vomiting, muscle weakness, headaches, confusion, lack of coordination, speech problems, memory problems, and seizures.

When the infection spreads to the central nervous system, meningitis or encephalitis with seizures may occur.

When the virus affects the nervous system, it can be fatal (ten percent of patients). Among those who survive neurologic infection, persistent symptoms such as muscle wasting, chronic headaches, and memory problems may occur.

About Senator Hagan

Senator Hagan was a Democrat who served in the Senate representing the state of North Carolina from 2009 to 2015.

Hagan is survived by her husband, Chip Hagan, and children Jeanette Hagan, Tilden Hagan and Carrie Hagan Stewart.

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