Heartland Virus Spread By Ticks

FAIRFAX, Va. (July 24, 2013) – A new disease is confirmed to be transmitted to humans by ticks. A Healthday News article reported yesterday on an illness known as Heartland virus, which has now been identified in a species of tick called the ‘Lone Star’ tick.

This virus is extremely rare in humans – in fact, only two cases have been reported thus far, according to the article. The two men were hospitalized in 2009 with this new disease that would later be named after the hospital in which they were treated. Researchers were not positive how the men contracted the virus until recently. Now, the virus has been found in Midwest tick populations at a frequency of about one in every 500 ticks. However, detecting the virus in tick populations is not too helpful because there is no test available yet to detect the virus in humans.

Prevention of Heartland virus is no different than preventing other tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted fever. Experts recommend wearing insect repellant containing 20 percent DEET when spending time outdoors, staying away from overgrown grassy areas and thoroughly inspecting yourself after spending time outdoors where ticks could be found.