(KY3) – A research team from Emory University is warning of a tick-borne virus circulating across the United States, one first identified in Missouri in 2009.
The Heartland virus has recently been detected and transmitted in Georgia, according to findings from Emory University released March 16.
Scientists say the Heartland virus can be carried by Lone Star ticks. It is transmitted through a tick bite and can cause fever, decreased appetite, headaches, nausea and joint pain. Currently, there are no vaccines or medications to prevent the Heartland virus or treat infected patients.
According the report from Emory University, in 2009, two men in in northwest Missouri were hospitalized with high fevers, diarrhea, muscle pains, low counts of white blood cells and platelets, and other symptoms similar to known tick-borne diseases. Researchers soon realized the men were infected with a novel virus, which then became known as the Heartland virus.
“Heartland is an emerging infectious disease that is not well understood,” says Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec, associate professor in Emory’s Department of Environmental Sciences and senior author of the study. “We’re trying to get ahead of this virus by learning everything that we can about it before it potentially becomes a bigger problem.”
Since it was first discovered, nearly 50 cases of Heartland virus have been identified in people from 11 states in the Midwest and Southeast. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recognizes 18 tick-borne diseases in the United States, including Lyme disease.
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