The Oklahoma State Department of Health has confirmed the state’s first case and death of Heartland virus disease. The individual, a Delaware County resident reportedly died from complications from the relatively new (first discovered in 2009) viral disease.
According to state health officials, the Oklahoma case is only the tenth person confirmed with the virus and the second person to die from it. Other cases have occurred in Missouri and Tennessee. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studies to date have shown Heartland virus is carried by Lone Star ticks (Amblyomma americanum), which are primarily found in the southeastern and eastern United States. Additional studies seek to confirm whether ticks can spread the virus to people and to learn what other insects or animals may be involved in the transmission cycle.
Symptoms of Heartland virus disease can include fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea, bruising easily and diarrhea. There is no specific treatment, vaccine or drug for Heartland virus disease. CDC developed the blood tests used to confirm the new cases of Heartland virus disease. CDC teams are working to further validate these tests and develop additional tests. As more is learned, CDC hopefully can develop a diagnostic test that public health laboratories could use to test for the virus.
Healthcare providers can contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Acute Disease Service at (405) 271-4060 for consultation regarding protocol enrollment for patients who have acute illnesses compatible with Heartland virus infection.
Preventing bites from ticks and mosquitoes may prevent this and other infections. The Oklahoma State Department of Health recommends the following: Use insect repellents, following package instructions, wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors so that ticks are easily seen and removed, avoid bushy and wooded areas where ticks can be transferred onto you and perform thorough tick checks soon and daily after spending time outdoors.