COLUMBIANA COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF) – A potentially deadly tick-borne virus has been discovered in Ohio.

Powassan Virus Disease, or POW, is carried by the deer tick or black-legged tick, the same tick that carries Lyme disease.

Rare, tick-borne disease reported locally

Health department officials confirm that one youngster in Columbiana County has been hospitalized with a severe case since October.

They say it’s important for residents to realize this is a serious virus, although in some cases, symptoms can be mild or even undetected.

Until now, it’s been rare.

The CDC said that there’s been about 100 cases in the last ten years. The last update they had on their website was 39 cases in 2019. This is the first case we’ve had in Ohio. There are cases where the virus has ended up killing people. People that are outside are more likely to contract the virus. So those people really need to be cognizant of ticks.

Laura Fauss, Public Information Officer, Columbiana County Health District

There is no vaccine to prevent the virus, and no known treatment.

In the more severe cases, it can cause seizures and encephalitis.

At this point, everyone is urged to avoid ticks by staying out of high grass and using FDA-approved tick repellent. Pet owners are urged to check their pets often for ticks, and remove them immediately.

Health officials expect POW Virus Disease to become more prevalent.