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

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The very first tests for Powassan virus can now be ordered by physicians and hospitals across the country.

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 doctors haven’t had access to a commercial test before now.”

Coppe Laboratories is ready to provide testing for both Powassan virus infection and Lyme disease. These lines of testing are core competencies for the laboratory that has been providing high quality, high value diagnostic testing across the country for years.

About Coppe Laboratories
Coppe Laboratories is a highly specialized, CLIA-certified diagnostic laboratory providing a spectrum of laboratory tests with an emphasis on the interaction between, infection and immunity. Their arthropod-borne disease test menu focuses on Lyme disease, and includes sophisticated tests that detect Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii, along with tick and mosquito transmitted Powassan and West Nile viruses. Coppe Labs also provides specialized testing for human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) and chromosomally integrated HHV-6 (ciHHV-6) which has been implicated in complications associated with organ transplantation and infertility. Coppe is the ONLY laboratory that offers tissue immunohistochemistry (IHC) for HHV-6 globally.

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Richard Peluso
Coppe Laboratories
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