A New York resident has died after contracting a rare tickborne disease, health officials announced Thursday.
The unidentified resident is the first to die of Powassan virus in the state this year.
Powassan virus is spread by the common deer tick, which thrives throughout the Eastern half of the US.
People bitten by infected ticks can develop a life-threatening infection that attacks the brain, causing dangerous swelling for which there is no medication.
No more than 33 US cases have been reported in the last decade - but Powassan virus infections in the last decade, but they've increased sharply on the heals of climate change, putting health officials on high alert in New York and nationwide.
The blacklegged deer tick (pictured) is common in the Eastern US and can carry Powassan virus, which has claimed the life of one New York resident so far this year, the state reports
'It is imperative that all residents take every precaution necessary against tick-borne illnesses, especially during outdoor activities,' warned Dr Carol Smith, heath commissioner of Ulster County, where the ill-fated New York resident lived.
'Residents should vigilantly check themselves and their pets for ticks and tick bites.'
In less than a decade, the number of counties that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers at high risk for Lyme disease - another potentially debilitating tickborne infection - has tripled.
There are now more ticks of each species in more areas, more species of ticks and more disease-causing germs carried by those ticks than in years past.
Cases of every major tickborne disease - including Lyme, anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis, spotted fever rickettsiosis (including Rocky Mountain spotted fever), babesiosis, tularemia, and Powassan virus disease have all increased.
In 2016, the CDC received 48,610 reports of these illnesses.
The following year, there were 59,349 cases - a 22 percent spike.
Among these diseases, Powassan virus disease is one of the rarest, and scariest.
Many people bitten by Powassan-infected ticks will not develop