CDC Finds New 'Heartland' Virus in Missouri

Tick-borne bug is new to science

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 30, 2012 5:50 AM CDT
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(Newser) – Two unlucky farmers in Missouri helped scientists discover a brand-new virus with an all-American name. The two are the only known victims of the Heartland tick-borne virus, detected through genetic analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports NPR. Both men recovered, but they were sick for weeks with fever, extreme fatigue, and nausea. The virus, which gets its name both from the region where it was discovered and the Heartland Regional Medical Center where both men were treated, is similar to another virus recently identified in China.

"We're pretty excited about it," a CDC researcher says of the virus. "It's not every day that you find something new—particularly in the world of tick-borne diseases. We often work with what might be considered antique diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever." The two farmers lived 60 miles apart so researchers believe the virus may be widespread in the area, with other animals besides ticks serving as hosts. "It could be responsible for more illness than we think," a researcher says.

Researchers believe the Lone Star Tick is a host for the Heartland virus.
Researchers believe the Lone Star Tick is a host for the Heartland virus.   (CDC)
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