Ticks in Illinois found to have Heartland virus - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Ticks in Illinois found to have Heartland virus

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SPRINGFIELD (WSIL) – Illinois health officials are warning residents to protect themselves from tick bites after the first case of the Heartland virus was found in the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says a resident in Kankakee County tested positive for the virus last summer. In response, ticks were collected and sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing. The Heartland virus was found in Lone Star ticks taken from the area.

Symptoms of the Heartland virus can include fever, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and diarrhea. Most people report becoming sick about two weeks after being bit by a tick.

Health officials say reported cases of Heartland virus disease are rare, but almost all those with the virus have been hospitalized. A few have died. There are no vaccines to prevent Heartland virus infections.

“Bites from ticks can result in multiple types of infections, which can cause serious illness in some people,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “It is important to take precautions and protect yourself from tick bites by using insect repellent and checking regularly for ticks when in wooded areas or high grass.”

Tips to avoid tick bites include:

  • Wear light-colored, protective clothing—long-sleeved shirts, pants, boots or sturdy shoes, and a head covering. Treat clothing with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE). For assistance selecting the appropriate insect repellent, see EPA’s helpful search tool.
  • Walk in the center of trails so grass, shrubs, and weeds do not brush against you.
  • Check yourself, children, other family members, and pets for ticks every two to three hours.
  • Remove any tick promptly by grasping it with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible and gently, but firmly, pulling it straight out. Wash your hands and the tick bite site with soap and water.

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