DEADLY TOCK-BORNE HEARTLAND VIRUS SPREADING TO MORE U.S. STATES
Two years ago, a rare Heartland virus killed a man in 2021, the first case ever from the Maryland and Virginia area of the United States. It’s carried and spread by the Lone Star Tick, which is known to spread several dangerous and infectious diseases, including the Heartland virus. The man in his 60’s who died two years ago was a mystery at first. He was admitted into an emergency room with symptoms of fever, diarrhea and aches. He didn’t have any apparent tick bites. But given his symptoms doctors prescribed antibiotics and sent him home.
MAN DIED TWO YEARS AGO 13 DAYS AFTER SYMPTOMS STARTED MYSTIFIED DOCTORS
But two days later he returned to the ER with more symptoms; confusion and an unsteady ability to walk. He was admitted to the hospital and as his health continued to decline, was sent to a specialized care center. Yet doctors still couldn’t identify his illness, the Heartland virus. Then he developed hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a rare condition that causes white blood cells to attack organs. The man died 13 days after his symptoms first appeared. Doctors still suspected that he had some kind of tick-borne virus, and sent samples of the man’s blood to the CDC for testing, which confirmed their suspicions to be correct.
HEARTLAND VIRUS WAS FIRST DISCOVERED IN 2009, AND THERE’S A LOT WE STILL DON’T KNOW
Heartland virus was first discovered in 2009 by doctors at the Heartland Regional Medical Center in northwestern Missouri. So far, we know that it is spread by the Lone Star tick, which is common in the Eastern and Midwestern United States. So far, there are only about 50 cases of the Heartland virus that have proven fatal in humans in over a dozen states that include Kentucky, Indiana and even as far north as New York. But it’s likely that this will appear in more US states soon, if it hasn’t already. Climate change is expanding ticks’ range even more, including the Lone Star tick.
Authorities think that there have been even more mild, undetected Heartland virus infections that haven’t proven fatal. So everyone needs to take every precaution to avoid tick bites. One could literally kill you in days.