Health Department Warns of Tick Dangers After Oklahoman Dies from Heartland Virus

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is warning people about the dangers of ticks after the state's first death form Heartland virus was reported.

State officials announced Tuesday that a Delaware County resident recently died from complications of the virus. The virus is found in the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum), and is likely spread through tick bites.

Heartland virus was first identified in Missouri in 2009. The Oklahoma case is only the tenth person confirmed with the virus and the second person to die from it.

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

There is no vaccine or drug to prevent or treat the disease. Preventing bites from ticks and mosquitoes may prevent this and other infections. The Oklahoma State Department of Health recommends the following:

  • Use insect repellents, following package instructions.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors so that ticks are easily seen and removed.
  • Avoid bushy and wooded areas where ticks can be transferred onto you.
  • Perform thorough tick checks soon and daily after spending time outdoors.