Veteran Dies After Contracting Rare Tick-Borne Virus in New Jersey

By Venus Upadhayaya, Epoch Times
June 12, 2019 Updated: June 12, 2019

A marine corps veteran who died in May tested positive for a rare tick-borne illness before his death, according to a diagnosis confirmed on June 10.

Armand Desormeaux, 80, died on May 16 and his daughter, Dianne Rude, said he had tested positive for the rare tick-borne Powassan virus, reported the New Jersey Herald.

This is the second case caused by the rare virus in Sussex County this week and the Sussex County Division of Health is investigating the issue.

Donna Leusner, spokesperson for the state Department of Health said that if the cause of the veteran’s death is confirmed to be the virus, it would be the first such case in Sussex County and only the second in the state.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as quoted by the Herald, it would be only the tenth case of death caused by the rare tick-borne virus in the United States since 2008.

The second person infected by the Powassan virus in Sussex County is recovering at home. While health officials haven’t disclosed the identities of those who died from the virus, Rude came forward with her father’s case.

Rude told the Herald that the testing was done at the CDC and that doctors confirmed the diagnosis on Monday.

She said though her father had faced various medical issues he was an active person until May 6 when he suddenly suffered from a high fever.

She described how within the next 12 hours Desormeaux’s condition rapidly declined and he was transported in an ambulance to Newton Medical Center. He was violently shaking, was suffering from tremors, was not able to talk, and was losing the ability to move his limbs.

“About 2 weeks before he became sick he was out gardening and bit on the arm by a tick. He pulled it off and there was no bullseye later. 2 days before he was hospitalized he was running around Mt Airy Casino with Joe Rude and having a good time. The next day he felt like he was getting a cold and came down with a high fever,” Rude described in a Facebook post.

She said that after receiving the diagnosis on Monday her father’s condition made sense to her.

“A full battery of tests were run an eventually sent for special testing with the CDC who found Powassan Tickborne Virus,” Rude wrote on Facebook.

She said her family came to know that another person is infected with the same virus five miles from their home and has survived with severe neurological issues.

“So please everyone spray your yards, frontline your animals and check yourself for ticks. The Powassan virus has made it to Sussex County NJ!” she wrote.

Powassan Virus

The CDC said that the number of cases of people suffering from the Powassan virus has increased in recent years and there is no vaccine to treat or prevent the infection.

The CDC said that most of the cases in the country happen in the northeast and Great Lakes regions in the late spring, early summer, and mid-fall when ticks are most active.

“People with severe Powassan virus disease often need to be hospitalized to receive support with breathing and swelling in and around the brain,” the CDC said in a post on its website.

It said the best way to avoid the tick-borne disease is by learning to avoid the tick.

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