The county's department of health announced the news Thursday, noting that the New York State Department of Health notified Putnam last week.
Here's what Putnam said about the virus:
POW virus, like Lyme disease, is transmitted through the bite of an infected deer (black-legged) tick. The POW virus can be transmitted in as little as 15 minutes; in contrast, most Lyme infections require the tick be attached for at least 36 to 48 hours before the bacterium can be transmitted. Since POW is a virus, antibiotics are not effective, as they are with the bacterial Lyme disease.
Signs and symptoms of POW infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. People with severe POW virus illness often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain that may occur.
People most likely to be exposed to ticks are those out in wooded and tall, grassy areas—campers, gardeners, hikers, hunters and outdoor workers, the Putnam department of health said. Deer ticks do no fly or jump. They rest on low-lying vegetation and attach to animals and people who are passing by.
"The risk is greatest along trails in the woods and on the edges of properties with tall vegetation, where the higher humidity levels are ideal for tick survival," experts said. "However, ticks are also carried into lawns and gardens by pets, mice and other small animals."
Here are some tips on avoiding ticks, as provided in the press release:
- Tuck pants into socks and shirt into pants when in wooded and grassy areas.
- Wear light-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily.
- Check for ticks on clothing or skin frequently. Brush them off before they can attach to your skin.
- Do a thorough “tick check” of your entire body daily. Pay particular attention to the back of the knees, behind the ears, the scalp, the armpits and your back.
- Repellents containing DEET have been effective in preventing tick bites. If you decide to use a tick repellent, apply carefully and follow all label directions. Bathe or shower and change clothes when you go back inside.
- Do not apply repellents directly to children. Apply to your hands and then transfer it to the child. Never apply repellents to children’s hands or face.
- No one should apply repellents near eyes, nose or mouth.
Of the 16 known cases in New York since 2001, five were in Putnam. The virus is "significantly less common" than the Lyme bacterium, according to officials.
A recent study of ticks across the Hudson Valley showed that Putnam had the highest rate of POW virus infection across seven counties, according to a press release. It was found in 3.84-percent of ticks.
“Preventing tick bites is the first defense in preventing all tick-borne infections,” said Allen Beals, M.D., Commissioner of Health. "But especially important given the rapid transmission of the POW virus. This illness gives another reason to seriously consider applying a repellent containing DEET, which has been highly effective in preventing bites.”
If you need more information about the POW virus, contact the Putnam County Department of Health at 845-808-1390 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/powassan.