Sunday, October 30, 2016

Heartland virus death in New Orleans

Earlier this week, a man from New Orleans died from the Heartland virus. The virus is rare and was only included in medical literature relatively recently (2012). The virus is an arbovirus (arthropod borne) and is thought to have infected the man via a tick bite. He went to the hospital when his leg started to hurt and a rash appeared. Doctors initially thought he might have a bacterial infection from the tick bite, but when treatment failed and he got worse, they treated more aggressively for a viral infection. Upon inspection of the man's tissues post mortem, CDC investigators found the presence of the virus in nearly every sample. This is a stark contrast to previous cases of Heartland virus, where the virus was only found in blood and bone marrow samples.

Heartland virus is a phlebovirus in the family Bunyaviridae. Heartland viruses spread by insect bites and there is no vaccine, so the best way to prevent infection is by wearing insect repellent, protective clothing, and routinely inspecting your body for ticks if you spend time in forests.

-Katy Graham


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