Update on Powassan virus: emergence of a North American tick-borne flavivirus

Annu Rev Entomol. 2010:55:95-110. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-112408-085446.


Powassan virus (POW) (Flaviviridae: Flavivirus) is the cause of rare but severe neuroinvasive disease in North America and Russia. The virus is transmitted among small- and medium-sized mammals by ixodid ticks. Human infections occur via spillover from the main transmission cycle(s). Since the late 1990s, the incidence of human disease seems to be increasing. In addition, POW constitutes a genetically diverse group of virus genotypes, including Deer tick virus, that are maintained in distinct enzootic transmission cycles. This review highlights recent research into POW, focusing on virus genetics and ecology and human disease. Important directions for future research are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ecosystem
  • Encephalitis Viruses, Tick-Borne / genetics*
  • Encephalitis, Tick-Borne / epidemiology
  • Encephalitis, Tick-Borne / parasitology
  • Encephalitis, Tick-Borne / virology*
  • Humans
  • North America / epidemiology