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Tick-borne disease claims Oklahoma man

COURTESY PHOTO The lone star tick known to exist in New York and be responsible for other tick-borne illnesses is thought to be linked to the Heartland Virus responsible for the death of an Oklahoma man.
The lone star tick known to exist in New York and responsible for other tick-borne illnesses is thought to be linked to the” heartland virus” causing the death of an Oklahoma man.

One person out of the 10 who have been afflicted has died; there is no known treatment or cure; and no sure tests exist to easily identify it.

It’s “Heartland Virus” that the Centers for Disease Control believe stems from lone star tick bites. The CDC is on the case, trying to track, treat and cure it.

Although lone star ticks are known to exist here, New York State hasn’t had any cases since the illness was first detected in 2009 in Missouri, according to Monica Mahaffey, associate director of public affairs for the New York State Department of  Health.

A 65-year-old man from Delaware County in Oklahoma was the first to succumb to the heartland virus this week, according to an ABC News report. The disease has also been detected in patients in Tennessee and Missouri. But the CDC said the one patient who died also had multiple life-threatening illnesses.

“It is unknown at this time if the virus may be found in other areas of the United States,” according to the CDC.

Symptoms are similar to other tick-borne diseases such as Lyme — fever, fatigue and, for some, muscle aches, headaches, a loss of appetite, diarrhea and general stomach upset.

To date, those who have contracted it have been men over the age of 50 who generally suffer from other illnesses and have compromised immune systems.

While most sufferers required hospitalization, all but one recovered, according to the CDC.

The CDC is advising anyone with an undiagnosed acute illnesses displaying symptoms such as those described above to contact their state health departments.

Before the Oklahoma fatality surfaced, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statement in April pertaining to precautions everyone should take to avoid all tick-borne diseases.

Despite the unusually cold winter, New Yorkers should be aware that the long-lasting snow cover likely provided insulation, allowing ticks to survive, the governor said.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah reminded those venturing into wooded or grassy areas to wear light colored clothes — long pants and shirts with long sleeves and to tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants. Anyone venturing into such areas should always check themselves for ticks when returning home, he said.

He also reminded people to check their pets, noting that dogs are more susceptible to tick bites than cats. Dr. Shah also advised people to use insect repellents.

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