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Powassan Virus

Powassan Virus is a rare but serious disease caused by an infected* tick. Ticks become infected* with the virus once they feed on infected* groundhogs, squirrels, mice, or other rodents. There are three types of ticks that spread Powassan virus: groundhog tick, squirrel tick, and blacklegged or deer tick. Most cases found in the United States occur in the northeast and great lakes region from late spring through mid-fall when ticks are the most active.


How can I get sick? 

  • Through the bite of an infected* tick.  


Symptoms in humans:  

Many people infected with Powassan virus do not show any signs of being sick. But some may experience the following symptoms: 

  • Fever (when your body gets a little hotter than normal)  

  • Headache 
  • Throwing up 
  • Tiredness  
  • Infection of the brain (encephalitis) 
  • Confusion 
  • Unable to control movements 
  • Difficulty speaking  
  • Seizure*

What can I do to stay healthy? 

Before you go outside  

  • Know where ticks live!  
    • Ticks live in grassy, bushy, or wooded areas. They also live on animals.   
      • When hiking or walking outside, try to stay on trails.  
      •  While hunting or trapping, use gloves when touching an animal or harvesting* an animal.  
  • Hunting, camping, hiking, gardening, or playing outside can bring you close to ticks.   
  • Treat your clothes, gear (boots, tents, backpacks or camping gear), or any outdoor equipment with insect repellent*.   
  • Wear long pants, long sleeves, and long socks when outside.    
  • Use insect repellents* while hiking, camping, hunting, or being outside. Ask an adult to help you with insect repellent*.   

Before you come inside after being outside  

  • Check your clothes, pets, and gear (backpacks, shoes, tents) for ticks before going inside.   
  • If you have a tick on you, ask for help to have it removed.    
  • Shower soon after being outside to wash off ticks and do a tick check.   
  • Check your body for ticks after being outside. Check under your arms, in and around your ears, inside belly button, back of your knees, in and around your hair, between the legs, and around your waist.   


  • Harvesting an animal: The process of removing an animal to be used for meat or fur.
  • Infected: When germs get inside of a body, animal, or an organism.  
  • Insect repellent: Product applied to skin, clothing or surfaces to keep insects away.  
  • Seizures: Abnormal electrical activity in the brain, which can usually cause shaking all over and losing control of your body.

Species Affected

Learn About Other Diseases

Click below to learn more about the many different diseases that can spread between animals and humans.