Lone Star Ticks could be responsible for deadly virus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Monday, June 2, 2014 - 8:30pm

Texas is the Lone Star state, so it would make sense that the Lone Star Tick would call Texas its home, but that’s not necessarily the case.

The Lone Star Tick can be found throughout the Southeast and Texas, but according to Christine Pearson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Heartland Virus, which is thought to be linked to the Lone Star Tick, hasn’t be diagnosed anywhere in the Texas area. "It's a relatively new virus, so we're still learning about it, but so far there have only been a handful of cases identified. Most of them have been in Missouri, and then also one in Tennessee and one in Oklahoma."

However, Dr. Joseph Bocchini of LSU Health Shreveport reminds people that just because the Ark-La-Tex doesn’t have any cases of the Heartland Virus doesn’t mean that people should be lax about ticks. He urges everybody to take tick precautions. "They can use compounds like DEET and permethrin on clothing to try to reduce the likelihood that a tick will come on them, and then number 2, when they're in a wooded area, they should periodic tick checks."

Ticks like dark areas, so checking in hair, behind ears, and behind knees is imperative. Also, pets need to be checked as well. They would also suffer from tick bites.

The CDC has a full list of preventative measures here.

Even with every preventative measure taken, Dr. Bocchini knows that ticks can still bite, so he has this advice, "there are many different tick born illnesses, and therefore people just need to be aware that if they develop an illness a week or two after a tick bite they need to see their physician and be evaluated for the possibility that they've had a tick transmitted illness."

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