The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

July 29, 2013

One more thing to worry about: Heartland virus latest addition to list of tick-borne diseases

JOPLIN, Mo. — Kevin Badgley said that in the spring he can sometimes see tick nymphs “questing.”

They climb to the tops of plants, weeds or blades of grass, attach their back legs to the plant, and reach out and flail their front legs, waiting to attach to any animal that passes by.

Sometimes, said Badgley, a naturalist and education outreach specialist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, the young ticks seem to line up.

When that animal is a biped that lives in Missouri, the eagerness that ticks demonstrate to attach to some host can become a problem.

Heartland virus

That ticks cause illnesses — Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, Q fever and Lyme disease — isn’t new, but what is new is being called the Heartland virus.

Two farmers in the St. Joseph area in 2009 were treated at Heartland Regional Medical Center there for fever and fatigue. Doctors initially suspected ehrlichiosis, a tick-borne illness common in Missouri, but the patients didn’t respond to antibiotics used to treat the disease. Doctors sent blood samples to experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC scientists then traveled to northwest Missouri, finding the new virus in ticks collected on the patients’ farms and in the Honey Creek Conservation Area. What has been dubbed the Heartland virus was detailed recently in a paper published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

The author of the study, CDC research entomologist Harry Savage, was back in Andrew County near St. Joseph last week in the field, collecting more ticks.

Savage said by telephone that at this point, only the two human cases have been documented, but he’s sure there are others.

“Other Heartland cases out there probably have been misdiagnosed,” he said.

Savage said the lone star tick carries the virus. The female adult has a white spot.

The virus causes a fever, chills, body aches, nausea and diarrhea. The symptoms are similar to those associated with other tick-borne illnesses.

“This is just one more disease,” Savage said. “All we know now is it’s in northwest Missouri. There’s no reason to believe it’s not more widespread. Surveillance will be broadened to detect more human cases.”

Text Only
Top Stories
  • r072414msw.jpg VIDEO: Carterville company expands to third generation

    What began as Ray “Mac” McCoy’s side job in his home 55 years ago has grown not only in square footage and reach, but in generations. This summer, a third generation took over the reins of MSW — Mac’s Specialty Woodwork — that now exceeds 90,000 square feet and creates custom furniture for chain restaurants coast to coast.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • r072314techcenter4.jpg Southeast Kansas schools, businesses get behind new technical center

    When Galena Superintendent Brian Smith looks at the millions of dollars of construction projects going on in his district, not to mention similar projects underway in Joplin, Carthage and elsewhere, he sees the need to train masons.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos

  • Landfill opponents seek answers

    The Baxter Springs High School auditorium was filled with hundreds of Cherokee County residents Thursday night as Galena city officials answered questions and listened to comments regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 24, 2014

  • Neosho athletes bring home silver

    For 19-year-old Dominque Dechant, it was the trip of a lifetime. She and three other athletes from Neosho traveled last month to Newark, New Jersey, as part of the Missouri Special Olympics girls basketball team.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hospital Shooting_Cast.jpg Doctor fired back at gunman in hospital attack

    A doctor grazed by gunfire from a patient who had entered his office in a suburban hospital’s psychiatric unit stopped him by returning fire with his own gun and injuring him, authorities said.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3 To Get Ready

    Three things coming your way in Friday’s Joplin Globe.

    July 24, 2014

  • APTOPIX Vatican Pope.jpg Pope meets Sudanese woman sentenced to death

    Pope Francis met privately Thursday with a Sudanese woman who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence, blessing the woman as she cradled her infant daughter born just weeks ago in prison.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Box Turtle.jpg Getting reacquainted with garden dwellers

    Visitors to my garden this week find me covered in dust and dirt with bits of wood, leaves and who knows what else caught in my hair; stinky, sweaty gloves; grimy sweat pants and rivulets of dirty perspiration running down my face.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • mug_sarah-coyne-112613-c.jpg Sarah Coyne: Older kids still find joy in toys

    When she crawled under her covers, she buried her head in her pillow. Then she looked up at me and whispered, "But what if I can't stop thinking about that spider?"

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072414_annie1.JPG Child's play: Kids comprise the cast of 'Annie Jr.'

    The kids are getting a kick out of playing adults. While most of the main characters in "Annie Jr." are orphan children, some, such as Daddy Warbucks, Miss Hannigan and President Roosevelt, are squarely past adulthood.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo