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Oklahoma officials confirm death from tick-borne Heartland virus

A Delaware County resident has died from complications related to the Heartland virus, which is thought to be transmitted by ticks, Oklahoma health officials reported.
FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: May 27, 2014 at 8:26 pm •  Published: May 27, 2014
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The state Health Department has confirmed the state’s first case of and death from Heartland virus0.

A Delaware County resident died recently from complications of the virus.

The virus is thought to be found in the Lone Star tick, also known as Amblyomma americanum, and is likely spread through tick bites.

Heartland virus was first identified in Missouri in 2009. Tennessee also has reported cases.

The Oklahoma victim was the 10th person confirmed to have the virus and the second person to die from it, according to the state Health Department.

All the patients diagnosed with Heartland virus reported they spend several hours a day outside doing activities or for their occupations.

Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle ache, loss of appetite, nausea, bruising easily and diarrhea.

There is no routine testing available for Heartland virus, but protocols are in place for investigational diagnostic testing.

Health care providers can contact the state Health Department’s acute disease service at 271-4060 for consultation about protocol enrollment for patients who have acute illnesses compatible with a Heartland virus infection.

There is no vaccine or drug to prevent or treat the disease. Avoiding bites from ticks and mosquitoes might prevent it, although it is not fully known how people become infected with Heartland virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.