Geography: Midwestern United States
Cases Per Year: 2 to 10
Fatality Rate: 10%
First Discovered: 2009 in Missouri, United States by Dr. Scott Folk
Heartland virus is transmitted to humans via the Lone Star tick. The incubation period is usually under 2 weeks. Most patients have a high fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, headache, nausea, diarrhea, and muscle or joint pain. Patients often have lower than normal counts of white blood cells and platelets. Increased levels of liver enzymes are sometimes present in patients with the virus. It can be prevented by wearing long sleeves and long pants to cover the body, using insect repellent containing DEET, and avoiding wooded or bushy areas. People should perform thorough tick checks after being outside.
There are no vaccines or medications to prevent or treat heartland virus. Many patients are hospitalized, and most fully recover.
Photo: Rift Valley Fever virus, a relative of Heartland Virus – Electron micrograph.