Coppe Laboratories Offers First Commercially Available Test for Powassan Virus in the U.S.

Concern over Powassan virus is rapidly expanding across many U.S states, and for good reason: Powassan virus is carried by the same ticks that transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Laboratory studies have shown that Powassan virus can be transmitted within 15 minutes of tick attachment, as opposed to the Lyme bacteria which is believed to require 24 hours or longer for transmission to humans. Initial symptoms of Powassan virus infection are very similar to those of Lyme disease, but treatment and long term outcomes are very different. There is currently no specific treatment available for Powassan virus infection, and in some cases it can lead to debilitating neurological conditions and even encephalitis.

Currently about 75 cases of Powassan encephalitis have been reported in the U.S. and the number continues to rise. Laboratory testing for Powassan virus includes molecular and serological tests performed on blood and/or spinal fluid, testing that until recently has only been available through a few public health services laboratories. Coppe Laboratories Inc., a diagnostic laboratory specializing in infectious disease testing, has announced both direct (PCR) and indirect (serologic) commercial tests for the detection of Powassan virus infection. Coppe laboratories soon to be published research study (Journal of Vector-borne and Zoonotic Diseases) analyzed ticks harvested from across the state of Wisconsin and found that a significant number of ticks harbored both the Lyme disease bacteria and Powassan virus. These important new research findings suggest that both Lyme and Powassan disease agents can be transmitted from a single tick bite.

“Public awareness of Powassan virus as a dangerous tick transmitted pathogen is alarmingly low”, said Dr. Konstance Knox, virologist, microbiologist, and founder of Coppe Laboratories. “Many patients with Powassan present with flu-like symptoms similar to those seen in other common viral infections. When these symptoms appear following a tick bite or tick exposure, antibiotic treatment is commonly begun due to concern for Lyme disease. Some patients, however, do not recover from their illness as expected; these patients should be tested for Powassan virus immediately.” Dr. Knox continues, “Powassan virus is not routinely tested for simply because…

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