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Published On: Thu, Apr 3rd, 2014

Heartland Virus Cases Increase

The Heartland Virus, a new arthropod-harbored contagion, is drawing increased attention from hospitals and public health officials.  As it stands now, five new cases have been documented in different parts of Missouri, and a dozen cases have been documented worldwide.

Amblyomma americanum image/ CDC

Amblyomma americanum image/ CDC

The Heartland Virus is contracted when the Lone Star tick, endemic to the plains region of America (thus the name), attaches to an individual and begins drinking the blood.  While drinking, the tick regurgitates some fluid to help dissolve skin layers to make feasting easier.  This regurgitated fluid contains the virus, which spreads in the blood stream as the tick feeds.  Other tick borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and tularemia, are spread in the same manner.

Symptoms begin with fever and general malaise.  As the disease progresses symptoms include headaches, muscle aches, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or nausea, with decreases in leukocytes, or cells that help fight infection.  Most patients require hospitalization, where they fully recover.  Only one patient has died since the virus was discovered in 2012.

Currently there are no specific treatments for Heartland Virus infections, mainly because the limited number of cases, low lethality, and recent discovery of the disease have not given scientists and health care workers time and resources to develop a substantial cure.  To prevent acquiring Heartland Virus, or any tick-borne infection, the CDC recommends four major steps be taken:

  • ·        Use insect repellents

 

  • ·        Wear long sleeves and pants

 

  • ·        Avoid bushy and wooded areas

 

  • ·        Perform thorough tick checks after spending time outdoors

Edward Marks is a PhD student at the University of Delaware.  His research involves the healing of myocardial tissue after major cardiac events using nanomedicine techniques, with the goal of pushing any advancement directly into the clinic.  Edward received his BS from Rutgers University and Masters from the University of Delaware.

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- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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  1. MERS Not As Threatening As Other Diseases | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] allowing doctors to pinpoint the exact disease and its cause. Some diseases though, such as the Heartland virus, have appeared to come out of the blue, vexing many epidemiologists. While climate change is […]

  2. MERS Not As Threatening As Other Diseases - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] allowing doctors to pinpoint the exact disease and its cause. Some diseases though, such as the Heartland virus, have appeared to come out of the blue, vexing many epidemiologists. While climate change is […]

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