3-Year Old Struggles to Recover from Powassan Virus

According to a story from ozarksfirst.com, Jamie Simoson was taken completely by surprise when her three year old son Jonathan started complaining about a headache. As his condition worsened, Jonathan had to be rushed to the hospital. Doctors determined that an infection with the Powassan virus had triggered meningoencephalitis. The infection was the result of a bite from a tick outside the family’s home in late June.

About Powassan Virus

Found in far eastern Russia and North America, the Powassan virus is one of the rarest tick-borne infectious diseases. It is known to cause encephalitis, a dangerous infection of the brain. The virus was first named in 1958 following a case of lethal encephalitis in an infected five year old. It is caused by the bite of ticks in the Ixodes and Dermacentor genera, with the species Ixodes scapularis (the deer tick or black legged tick) being most likely to bite humans. Diagnosis is difficult as testing is offered only at a small number of locations. Symptoms begin one to three weeks after infection, with encephalitis being the most common manifestation. It leads to fever, confusion, weakness, nausea, and headache. The infection may extend to meningoencephalitis, which causes seizures, paresis, aphasia, cranial nerve palsies, and altered mental status. Hospitalization is often necessary and there are no approved antiviral therapies or vaccines. To learn more about Powassan virus, click here.

Jonathan’s Story

Jonathan was released from the hospital, but still hasn’t fully recovered. Physical therapy has allowed him to walk again, but other challenges still lie ahead:

“Right now, we see some clear left-side weaknesses when it comes to his leg and his arm. Cognitively, he’s just not where he was before.” – Jamie Simoson

Jonathan’s parents found the tick relatively quickly. It was not engorged with blood, and the physicians estimated that it had only been attached for about 15 minutes; but that was all it took to infect him with the dangerous virus. It isn’t clear if Jonathan will be able to recover completely from the infection.


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