Powassan Virus Detected in D. Variabilis Ticks in New York

American Dog Tick. Unengorged female (and male) alongside a gravid (mated and replete) female that is ovipositing (laying eggs). Photo Credit: James Occi, (PhD cand.) LDA Scientific & Professional Advisory Board
Dermacentor Variabilis Ticks. Photo Credit: James Occi, PhD, LDA Scientific & Professional Advisory Board

Hart C., et al, published “Powassan Virus Lineage I in Field-Collected Dermacentor variabilis Ticks, New York, USA, in Emerging Infectious Diseases, on January 13, 2023.

Powassan virus (POWV) is a tickborne flavivirus that can cause lethal or debilitating neurologic illness. POWV was initially found in the woodchuck tick, Ixodes cookei, and later in the I. scapularis tick. Since I. scapularis tick bites occur more frequently than Ixodes cookei tick bites, POWV is assumed to be primarily transmitted by Ixodes spp. ticks in North America. There has been recent focus on Dermacentor spp. ticks because they are found in POWV endemic areas and bite humans. In a previous study, Dermacentor spp. has shown to be a vector for POWV in the laboratory. This study tracked the emergence of POWV in New York. Tick surveillance was performed in areas known to contain POWV. “We detected Powassan virus lineage I from a pool of field-collected D. variabilis ticks in New York, USA… suggesting that POWV can exist in this tick species, either because of incidental exposure or because of its own sylvatic cycle.”

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Read the study in Emerging Infectious Diseases