Treatment & Prevention

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for Powassan virus disease; clinical management is supportive. Patients with severe meningeal symptoms often require pain control for headaches and antiemetic therapy and rehydration for associated nausea and vomiting. Patients with encephalitis require close monitoring for the development of elevated intracranial pressure, seizures, and inability to protect their airway.

Prevention

No Powassan virus vaccines are available for use in humans. In the absence of a vaccine, prevention of Powassan virus disease depends on personal protective measures to decrease exposure to infected ticks. This includes avoiding wooded and bushy areas with high grass in endemic areas, using repellents to discourage tick attachment, and finding and removing ticks before they have a chance to attach. More information about reducing exposure to ticks is available on the CDC Ticks website.

Powassan virus can be transmitted through blood transfusions. People with confirmed Powassan virus infections should not donate blood for 6 months after their illness. Powassan virus infections temporally associated with blood transfusion should be reported promptly to the appropriate state health department.