2 cases of deadly tick-borne Powassan virus confirmed in Maine

Two cases of the tick-borne virus Powassan encephalitis have been diagnosed in Maine, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The two unidentified adult patients, who live in the Mid Coast region, reportedly became sick in late April and were hospitalized shortly after.

Both patients have since been discharged in order to recover at home, according to WBZ-TV.

Learn how to avoid tick bites:

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How to avoid tick bites
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How to avoid tick bites

1. Stay in the middle of the path

When hiking, make sure to stay in the middle of the path. Weeds, grass and trees make it easier for ticks to crawl onto you. Don't venture out to the grass or bushes, where ticks are formidable to be hiding. 

2. Wear long pants and closed toed shoes

Protect your skin. Adding an extra layer makes it more difficult to latch on to you. It's smart to wear pants, long sleeves and hats, especially in the summer.

3. Invest in deer-resistant plants. 

Since ticks feed on and are transported by deer, try looking into deer-resistant plants. French marigolds, rosemary, mint and crape myrtle are just some of the greens deer tend to "overlook". 

See a complete list of the herbs and flowers here

4. Check your dog! 

Dogs can literally bring ticks right to your front door. Prevent ticks by keeping their coats short in the summer. Use your hands to check the fur, stopping if you feel a pea-sized bump. Favorite spots ticks like to hide include the ears, toes and under the tail. 

Dog ticks don't "harbor diseases that sicken people", but you should still be wary. 

5. Yes, repellant can help. 

According to TickenEncounter, spray with DEET does not provide "sufficient" protection. Get spray for your clothes like Permethrin, which instantly kills ticks. 

6. Dry your clothes 

The CDC recommends tumble drying clothes immediately for ten minutes after you've been outside. Ticks can easily "dry out" with high heat, but you should make sure the clothes are completely dry. 

Warning: Ticks can survive the wash. 

7. Tuck your pants into your socks.

This covers the small, easily accessible space in between your pants and ankles. Especially if you are sitting, it makes it easier for ticks to latch on. 

8. Stay in the sun.

Since ticks survive in shady, humid environments, researchers agree that staying in the sun lowers the risk for ticks. According to LiveScience, ticks "can't survive" in places with lower than 80% humidity. 

9. Invest in Permethrin socks

The chemical is successful in protecting against ticks, mosquitoes and other types of bites. Lymedisease.org estimates that permethrin-treated footwear offered 74 times the protection from bites.

10. Mow your lawn

Cut your grass, clean your yard, get rid of any extra firewood or wood chips. 

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The Powassan virus (POW) is a rare but serious disease that can be spread to humans by infected ticks quickly after the initial bite.

For comparison, while it takes a tick carrying Lyme disease nearly 24 hours to pass the infection on to a human host, a tick with POW can transfer the virus in as little as 15 minutes.

Once a human has contracted the disease, POW can cause severe inflammation of the brain and the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.

Due to the severe neurological impact of the disease, about 10 percent of all POW cases are fatal, with about 50 percent of cases resulting in permanent brain damage.

Experts urge the public to be on high alert about the disease, considering summer 2017 has already been declared an especially bad season for ticks due to the mild winter and growing deer and mice populations.

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