A Sagadahoc County resident died after contracting the tick-borne Powassan virus disease.

The person, whose identity is not being released at this time, likely contracted the virus in Maine. It is the first identified case of the virus in the state so far this year, according to Lindsay Hammes, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Sagadahoc County resident was hospitalized after developing neurological issues, and later died from the disease.

Last year, a Waldo County resident died in April after contracting the rare tick-borne virus that causes brain infections. This year’s death is the fourth fatal case of Powassan virus recorded in Maine over the past decade.

The Powassan virus disease is carried by infected deer ticks or woodchuck ticks, both of which are found throughout Maine. It can take up to a month to feel any effects of being bitten by an infected tick.

Symptoms of a Powassan virus infection may include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, or memory loss. Only about 10 percent of people who contract the virus die. 

Ticks can be sent to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Tick Lab, which tests for the majority of tick-borne diseases present in the state. If you are concerned you have been bitten by an infected tick, it is advised to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.