- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) - A virus that appears to be carried by ticks and was found in Missouri in 2009 may be showing up in other states, according to a St. Joseph doctor.

The Heartland virus initially was thought to be confined to Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee, according to Dr. Scott Folk, director of adult infectious diseases at Heartland Clinic in St. Joseph. The virus was found in at least six men over the age of 50 as of 2014, with symptoms including fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, nausea or muscle pain.

Folk told The St. Joseph News-Press (https://bit.ly/1Zuu2KU ) that new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates the virus antibodies have been found in white-tailed deer, raccoons, moose and coyotes in 13 states, including Florida, Georgia, Maine, Texas and Kansas.

The presence of antibodies indicates the animal has been exposed to the virus, which is believed to be carried by lone star ticks.

“Because it was found in animals in the eastern U.S., it would suggest that ticks in that part of the country are also infected by the Heartland Virus,” said Folk, who first discovered the virus while working with the Centers for Disease Control. “If ticks are infected, it opens the door to the possibility that there are also human infections that haven’t yet been recognized.”

Folk said more research is being conducted to determine how the virus originated.

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Information from: St. Joseph News-Press/St. Joe, Missouri, https://www.newspressnow.com


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