Heartland virus belongs to a family of viruses called Phleboviruses. Viruses in this family are found all over the world. Some of these viruses can cause people to get sick. Most of the phleboviruses that cause people to become ill are passed through the bite of a mosquito, tick, or sandfly.
While it is not yet fully known how people become infected with Heartland virus, recent studies suggest that ticks, namely Lone Star ticks (Amblyomma americanum), may transmit the virus. Disease cases have been only been identified in Missouri and Tennessee.
The following ticks are known to transmit Ehrlichiosis in humans:
- Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum)
Signs + Symptoms
Since Heartland virus disease was first described in 2012 and there have only been a few cases, scientists are still learning about it. So far, all patients diagnosed with Heartland virus disease became sick during May-September. They all had a fever and felt very tired. Some also complained of headaches, muscle aches, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or nausea. All patients were males aged 50 years or older, and had low white blood cell counts (white blood cells fight infection and help to blood clot). Most patients required hospitalization for their illness, and all but one patient fully recovered.
There is no specific treatment for Heartland virus disease. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Supportive therapy can treat some symptoms. Some patients may need to be hospitalized for intravenous fluids, and treatment for pain or fever.