LITTLE ROCK — The state Department of Health said Friday it has confirmed its first case of Heartland virus in Arkansas.
The virus, a tick-borne disease, was identified in a resident of northwest Arkansas who has recovered fully, the agency said in a news release.
People become infected with Heartland virus through the bite of the Lone Star tick. Patients are most likely to be diagnosed with the virus between May and September, the Health Department said.
Heartland virus causes a flu-like illness with symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches, diarrhea, appetite loss and fatigue. There is no vaccine or drug to prevent or treat the disease.
The virus was discovered in 2009 in two patients at Heartland Hospital in Missouri. Both recovered.
Most patients require hospitalization for the illness but fully recover, although at least one person has died from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Health Department said Arkansas has some of the highest rates in the nation for tick-borne diseases, which also include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, anaplasmosis and Lyme disease.
The agency said it recommends that people avoid ticks by using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, avoiding bushy and wooded areas and performing thorough tick checks after spending time outdoors.