New tick-born virus infecting Missourians

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ST. JOSEPH, MO (KTVI)-- It's called the Hearthland Virus. It's named after a hospital near St. Joseph, Missouri. The illness first appeared in that part of the state. Eight people have come down with it, most of them are from Missouri. One person has died the rest have recovered.

Dr. Ericka Hayes is an expert in infectious diseases at Washington University Medical School. Dr. Hayes said, “It's worrisome when we know there's a new germ out there that can make people sick.”

Experts and the C.D.C. have been investigating the illness. There is no medicine no cure right now. Doctors can only treat the symptoms. Dr. Hayes said, “Fever, feeling very tired and really no specific symptoms like headaches, diarrhea, loss of appetite, sounds not unlike having the flu.”

It's believed the Lone Star Tick carries the new virus. People who like to hike in the woods are a little uneasy when they hear about a new disease carried by ticks.

Doctors recommend that to keep ticks away tuck your pant legs under your socks, use bug repellant that has a high percentage of DEET and stay out of wooded and grassy areas. If you do go hiking, do a thorough check afterwards. Dr. Hayes said, “A tick has to be attached to you several hours, if not days, before it can make you sick. So if you have been outside and you come in and you check yourself promptly for ticks and remove them you can prevent yourself from getting sick.”

Seven cases of the illness have been reported in Missouri and one in Tennessee. Patients who've been exposed all had low numbers of cells that fight infection and that help blood clot. Most of them required hospitalization. The person who died from the heartland virus had already been battling some medical problems.

It’s not clear if animals can be infected.

11 comments

  • pbeldon

    When I go to Missouri to visit this summer I am taking along my TerraShield, an essential oil blend that repels ticks and other bugs. I hate ticks! My dad got either this tick disease or another one a few years ago. If you want to order some of the TerraShield and other essential oils go to http://mydoterra.com/essentialwellnessoils/ The TerraShield is affordable and a little of the oil goes a long ways. You apply it on your ankles /soaks or outside hem of your pants; you can make a spray by mixing 5 drops or so with about a tablespoon of water to spray on your clothes.

  • Vicki Shackelford

    This disease is not made up. I spent a month in a Springfield, MO hospital and two weeks in rehab. The rest of my summer and up to the present time is still spent trying to regain strength. The mayo Clinic found it from test results and blood sent to them from my hospital. They recognized it as Erhlichiosis. I was on a vent, respirator and in CCU a week, ICU a week, and a regular room over a week and a half and rehab two weeks. The tic comes off infected deer. Please take precautions. No fun!

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