Family: Sussex County man died from rare tick-borne Powassan virus

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NEWTON -

A New Jersey family says that their loved one who recently passed away died from an extremely rare tick-borne virus.

The Sussex County Health Department says that there are two confirmed cases of the disease known as Powassan virus in the county. Dianne Rude tells News 12 New Jersey that her father died in May from the illness.

“Up until last week I had no idea about this and I just always though Lyme disease and that’s it,” Rude says.

Rude says that her father had told her that he was bitten by a tick on April 15. He died several weeks later. She says that doctors were unable to determine that her father had Powassan before he passed.

Doctors say that the illness is extremely rare – only a few cases have been confirmed in New Jersey over the past few years.

"The symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache - the virus can cause swelling of the brain. There’s no specific treatment for it, usually we do what we call ‘supportive care’ and there is no antibiotics or vaccines available to treat it,” says Dr. Jerry Zuckerman.

Rude says that she is now determined to make the public aware of the dangers of the illness so that others do not get sick.

"In the end, my strong, tough Marine [father] was taken down by a bug and never did I ever think that would happen,” she says.

The ticks that carry Powassan are typical deer ticks which are usually black and very small. Doctors suggest checking oneself after coming back from being outside.

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