The Department of Public Health said two Connecticut residents have tested positive for a tick infection known as the Powassan virus.
Officials said these are the first two cases identified this year.
DPH officials said the two individuals are between the ages of 50 and 79 and are from Fairfield and New Haven counties. They became infected during the third week of April. Lab testing in Colorado confirmed the presence of virus antibodies.
From 2016 to 2020, a total of 10 cases were reported in the state, including two in 2020. Two of these infections were deadly, officials said.
Both people were hospitalized with central nervous system disease. They've since been discharged and are recovering.
"The identification of two Connecticut residents with Powassan virus associated illness emphasizes the need to take actions to prevent tick bites while ticks are most active, from now through the late fall," said DPH Acting Commissioner Deidre Gifford. "Using insect repellent, avoiding areas where ticks are likely, and checking carefully for ticks after being outside can reduce the chance of you or your children being infected with this virus."
The virus can be spread through the bite of an infected black-legged or 'deer' tick. It takes one week to a month after the bite to develop symptoms and the virus can be transmitted in as little as 15 minutes after the tick first attaches, according to officials.
Most people infected with the virus likely won't experience any symptoms or a mild flu-like illness. Others will develop severe illness affecting their central nervous system.
About one in 10 cases of severe illness result in death and about half of survivors will experience long-term health problems.
Severe cases consist of fever, vomiting, headache, or weakness and rapidly progress to confusion, loss of coordination, difficulty speaking or seizures.
Officials say there is no vaccine or treatment with the exception of supportive therapy which could include hospitalization, respiratory support, IV fluids and prevention of other infections.
Powassan virus is typically reported between early spring and late fall. For more information on the virus, click here.