Heartland virus was first identified as a cause of human illness in Missouri in 2009. Heartland virus is thought to be spread to people by infected ticks. There is still much more to be learned about Heartland virus and its public health significance.
Heartland virus. Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Heartland virus can be transmitted by the bite of the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum). It is not known whether other tick species are able to transmit Heartland virus.
Signs and symptoms
Most patients have reported fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, nausea, diarrhea, and muscle or joint aches. Almost all patients with Heartland have been hospitalized. Although most patients have fully recovered, a few have died.
Diagnosis of Heartland virus disease is based upon the patient’s signs and symptoms, a history of possible exposure to ticks, and appropriate laboratory testing. If you think that you have Heartland virus disease, contact your health care provider right away.
People who have removed an attached tick sometimes wonder if they should have it tested for tick-borne diseases. Although some laboratories offer this testing, ISDH does not recommend it. If the tick tests positive, it does not necessarily mean that you have been infected; if the tick tests negative, it may provide a false sense of security because you may have been unknowingly bitten by a different tick that was infected.
There is no specific medication available to treat Heartland virus disease. People with severe illness may require hospitalization and/or supportive care.
The best way to prevent Heartland virus is to avoid tick bites. Please see our tick prevention page for more information.
For more information about Heartland virus, please visit the CDC Heartland virus webpage.
Cases of Heartland virus disease have been identified in the Midwestern and southern US, including two cases in southern Indiana.
National statistics for Heartland virus disease can be found at the CDC Heartland virus Statistics and Maps webpage.
Information for Providers
For Heartland virus disease diagnosis, treatment, and testing information, click here.
Page Last Updated: October 16, 2018
Page Last Reviewed: October 12, 2018