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:

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.