Hudson Valley resident dies from rare tick-borne virus

Female black-legged tick, aka deer tick, which spreads the Powassan virus

The Ulster County Department of Health was notified today that an Ulster County resident passed away from the Powassan virus, a rare and often serious disease spread by infected ticks. This is the first known case of an individual diagnosed with the Powassan virus in New York State this year. The resident, who lives in Gardiner, had additional underlying health conditions and passed away earlier this week.

The Ulster County Commissioner of Health has been in communication with the New York State Department of Health which follows the reports of testing for tick-borne diseases and reports positive results to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Powassan virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick. Since this is a viral disease, it cannot be treated with antibiotics.

According the Ulster County Health Department, the risk of getting Powassan is exceedingly low. Tens of thousands of people get tick bites every year, and typically, in New York State, anywhere from only 0-6 cases of Powassan infection are diagnosed each year.

Dr. Carol M. Smith, Ulster County Commissioner of Health and Mental Health had this statement:

“It is imperative that all residents take every precaution necessary against tick-borne illnesses, especially during outdoor activities.  Residents should vigilantly check themselves and their pets for ticks and tick bites.”

Symptoms of the Powassan virus include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties, and memory problems. If you or a family member has been bitten by a tick and are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, please consult your doctor as soon as possible.

The best way to avoid becoming ill with tick borne diseases is to take proper precautions when spending time outdoors. These include:

  • Staying on clear well-travelled paths.
  • Wearing light colored clothing to spot ticks easily.
  • Tucking pants into socks.
  • Use of insect repellents containing DEET for skin applications and Permethrin for clothing and shoes.
  • Showering as soon as possible after spending time outdoors.
  • Checking everyone including pets frequently and at the end of each day, and removing all ticks promptly and properly.

Additional information can be found on and


There are 9 comments

  1. David F Kelly

    OK! As a military veteran I think it’s high time to start using wide-spread chemical warfare on these little critters!! At this time last years I was in the hospital in the final stage of Lyme disease which caused me to have a silent heart attack and Bells Palsy. We need to nip this in the bud before we reach the point of no return!! As a kid growing up in PA i remember truck that used to go around using a fogger system in the evening that was used every so often and we were advised to stay inside and close all windows and doors until the following morning. This kept the pest populations in check. It’s time we the people started doing this again before more people and animals die!!!! What are your thoughts on this suggestion?????

    1. Michael Domanic

      It’s also possible that those chemicals they used, and told you to tell you to shield yourself and your family from, have caused a number of cancers resulting in deaths. Several other serious medical conditions have been linked to pest control chemicals.

      No easy answers here. The best possible solution is a medical one that allows for a safe immune system response (ie: vaccinations) to serious tick-born illness.

  2. FunkieGunkie

    This article has a major misprint stating you spray DEET on your skin and permethrin on your clothes. It’s the other way around. DEET is highly toxic and should never be sprayed on the skin of anything.

  3. Sandra M. Rightmyer

    When I was a kid in upstate N.Y., airplanes would spray for mosquito control. That’s all great, except tue next day all of those toxins are still in and on the ground, on our homes, cars, trees, etc. Now, Many people in my age bracket (baby boomers) are dying at a fast pace from cancers of all types, my husband included. He just turned 56 nine days before dying from prostate cancer. The toxins are sprayed everywhere one day, we were all asked to stay indoors, with windows shut. The next day we were all outside rolling in the grass, climbing trees etc, as kids do. How could anyone think the toxins would not cause some kind of health issues down the road to all of us kids. I agree something has got to be done about these ticks, but come up with a solution to keep everyone safe from harm while doing so. How about an inoculation against all types of Lyme disease? JMO.

  4. Peter Flierl

    My tick borne disease three weeks ago was anaflosmosis combined with sepsis and almost killed me. Two Verizon reps in Lenox noticed me passed out in my car outside the store and called 911.

    Symptoms sudden onset: confusion, disoriented, tremors, rapidly falling blood pressure, temp of 105. Lenox police awoke me and EMS took me to ER at BMC. On strong antibiotics in hospital and for days afterward, plus IV hydration.

    Both ER and ICU docs said I was an hour away from septic shock and organ failure leading to death.

  5. Shirley Polishook

    I was treated for Neurological Lyme with intravenous antibiotic in 2017. The tick bit me in 2014. Another tick bit me in 2015, infected me with Anaplasmosis, the symptoms sent me to doctor, was treated with oral antibiotic but was tested, found positive for Lyme disease from the 2014 bite. Symptoms persisted from the Lyme, Anaplasmosis gone. Finally tested by Infectious Disease Dr and treated for the Neurological Lyme. Now Powassen has been found near us. ONE problem is, Powassen is a VIRUS. Lyme disease (and some of the co-infections) are caused by BACTERIA. The OTHER problem is that the tests for both depend on an immune response in your blood so they work ONLY after you’ve had either infection long enough for your body to respond. (If your immunity is compromised by age or illness the response may not be strong enough to register on the meter.) IF AN ACCURATE TEST EXISTED FOR THE DISEASES RATHER THAN FOR THE BODILY RESPONSE, I WOULD KNOW WHICH DISEASE I HAD AND THEN AFTER TREATMENT, IF THE CURE HAD WORKED.

  6. Shirley Polishook

    Funkie: not a misprint, Permethrin IS to be sprayed on your clothes and SHOES! It stays even after several washes. Keep a couple of sets of sprayed clothes for outdoor work. Repellents with DEET are the most effective, I spray my hat and clothes for mosquitoes which can spread West Nile Fever and others. We have fewer large birds because West Nile kills them. It makes us sick.

    1. Freddy

      chickens everyone should have chickens. state parks state don’t hear Farmers complaining about ticks why because they have chickens.

  7. Jean Jackson- Leal Rudy

    My husband had Anaplasmosis, I have had Lyme. Luckily I was diagnosed early since I got the target, only about 20% get the target and are not treated til show symptoms. My husband took a visit to Urgicare for his dizziness and weakness, told it was dehydration, sent home. Next day still with symptoms, ER visit, vertigo, again sent home. Third day told him if he cud walk to end of hall wud go to family event. Caught him with a chair. BP Very low and falling when I took it, (former nurse.) After ambulance ride admitted , given fluids and antibiotics, without diagnosis. Tested neg for Lyme, but improved. I asked his primary to test for Anaplasmosis after he was discharged, result positive! Neither of us knew we had been bitten, as deer ticks are so small. If we had not been adamant about getting treatment he might have even died! And when doing tick check, also check the INSIDE of clothing for those little buggers! ALso the pictured tick looks like a dog tick, not a Deer Tick!

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