According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Heartland virus is an RNA virus and belongs to a family of viruses called phleboviruses. (RNA viruses also cause West Nile, influenza, SARS, MERS, and other diseases.) Heartland virus was first identified in 2009 in Missouri. At this time, additional research is needed to learn more about virus and the disease it causes.
Phleboviruses are found throughout the world and are transmitted to humans via mosquitoes, ticks, and sandflies. Studies suggest that Heartland virus may be spread through the bite of an infected Lone Star tick. As of May 2013, the virus has been found in Missouri, Tennessee, and Oklahoma, and it's unknown whether it may be present in other areas of the United States.
Symptoms of Heartland virus include the following:
- Bruising easily
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle and joint aches
- Nausea, upset stomach
If you develop these symptoms and are concerned about Heartland virus or other illnesses, please contact your health care provider. People with Heartland virus disease also may have a low blood cell count (e.g., leukopenia, thrombocytopenia) and elevated liver enzymes.
If you work outside or are otherwise active outdoors in areas where infected ticks are presentespecially during the spring, summer, and early fallyou may be at increased risk for exposure to Heartland virus. More research is necessary to determine precisely how the virus is transmitted to humans and if it can be transmitted to pets and livestock.
For information about ticks and other tick-borne illnesses, please see:
At this time, there is no specific treatment for Heartland virus. Supportive care includes IV (intravenous) fluids and medication for pain relief and fever. In some cases, people with Heartland virus disease require hospitalization.
Elderly patients and those with additional health problems may be at increased risk for serious illness related to the Heartland virus. As of May 28, 2014, two people in the United States had died from complications (e.g., neurological involvement) related to Heartland virus disease.
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention