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Maryland records first travel-related death from rare tick-borne virus

Maryland recorded its first travel-related death from a rare tickborne virus called Powassan, the Maryland Department of Health announced on Friday.
The individual first contracted the illness in Canada and then returned to Maryland, officials said. Officials first confirmed the presence of the infected tick bite on Sept. 22.
The illness is rare and is spread through the bite of an infected tick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is not transmittable through person-to-person contact, and officials said they do not believe the rare disease poses a threat of local transmission.
“We are very saddened to report the first death due to the Powassan virus in our state,” said Maryland Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Nilesh Kalyanaraman said in the announcement.
“Powassan is very rare, and this is the first-ever case recorded in Maryland. The individual contracted the virus in Canada and returned to Maryland afterward. We do not believe that Powassan poses any threat of local transmission in Maryland. As always, we urge everyone to practice good habits when in areas that could have ticks or avoid those areas altogether,” Kalyanaraman said.
The CDC reported that while reported cases are rare, they have increased in recent years.
So far in 2023, the CDC reported nine other states with confirmed cases of the illness, for a total of 28 confirmed cases this year, as of Oct. 3. The case in Maryland was not yet included in the CDC data. New York had six, Massachusetts had five, Maine and Connecticut each had four, Minnesota had three, Wisconsin and New Hampshire each had two cases, while Rhode Island and Pennsylvania each had one case recorded.
In all of 2022, the CDC reported 44 cases, up from 24 cases in 2021. Since 2016, there have been more than 20 cases reported each year. In the decade prior, the number of cases each year remained mostly in the single-digits, but never exceeded 16 cases.

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