The Herald Bulletin, ANDERSON, IN — New warnings about a rare tickborne disease have emerged after an environmental health investigation in a neighboring state revealed the presence of the disease in a tick that is commonly found in the Hoosier state.
“It’s like Russian roulette with seven bullets in the gun or something,” said Keith Clay, an Indiana University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology and a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Tulane University. “There’s a significant risk.
“There’s a growing list of known pathogens and it continues to grow, especially viral pathogens that we really haven’t understood that are transmitted by tick bites and represent a threat to human health.”
The Heartland virus was recently identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Lone Star ticks collected in Illinois.
The ticks, collected from Kankakee County, were sent to the CDC for testing earlier this year after a resident of that county tested positive for the virus.
The Heartland virus was first identified in 2009 after two Missouri farmers were hospitalized.
Authorities identified the viral disease was transmitted through a bite from Lone Star ticks.
While the disease is relatively rare, almost all individuals with Heartland virus have been hospitalized and a few have died, according to a press release from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
There are no vaccines to prevent Heartland virus infections, according to the CDC.
Signs and symptoms of the infection are also similar to other tickborne diseases including fever, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches and diarrhea.
Clay cautioned that the disease is rare and human cases are relatively low, but the discovery of the virus is a reminder to take precaution against ticks after exposure to places where they live … Read more.
SIMPLE STEPS TO HELP PREVENT TICK-BORNE DISEASES
May 14, 2019 by Rob Bryan
Backcountry Hunters – Anyone who spends any amount of time in the outdoors should take steps to prevent tick-borne diseases.
The Northeast has the highest rate of Lyme disease in the US, but Lyme is just one of eight tick-borne diseases in New England.
Deer ticks (officially known as black-legged ticks) can transmit Lyme, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Borellia myomiti, and the Powassin virus, and one tick can transmit all of them.
Dog ticks sometimes carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever (which can kill you) and tularemia in southern New England.
Erlichiosis is carried by the Lone Star tick, which is now well established in southern New England and spreading north.
The Lone Star tick also transmits the alpha-gal allergen, which causes many people to develop an allergy to the meat of hooved animals. Can you imagine not being able to eat what you hunt?
If that’s not enough, recent research has also shown that even people who do not develop the meat allergy may have increased risk of heart disease due to a 30% increase of plaque buildup in their heart arteries associated after exposure to the alpha-gel allergen.
If you become infected and are treated early, antibiotics are effective in many cases. However, many people become infected without ever knowing they have been bitten, and delays in treatment can cause significant complications.
While the number of reported Powassin cases is rare, there are no known treatments – 10% of cases end in death and half of survivors have permanent neurological symptoms, such as recurrent headaches, muscle wasting and memory problems.
I’ve had one brother land in the intensive care unit due to a dual case of Lyme disease and babesiosis, and my other brother has developed the red meat allergy after getting bitten by a Lone Star tick in southeastern Massachusetts.
Like me, both spend a lot of time in the outdoors, but neither of them have taken more adequate precautions to avoid tick bites.
We’ve all read about the minimal prevention system: use insect repellent, tuck your pants inside your socks, wear light-colored pants and check them now and then while in the field … Read more.