DES MOINES — A tick-borne virus has been found in Iowa for the first time and the year’s first West Nile Virus case has been reported, prompting public health officials Wednesday to urge residents to take precautions to avoid tick and mosquito bites.
The first case of Heartland virus, a tick-borne disease that causes fever, fatigue, nausea and diarrhea, was found in an older adult in Appanoose County in southern Iowa, the Iowa Department of Public Health said.
Heartland virus is thought to be transmitted by the Lone Star tick and was first discovered in 2009 in Missouri. Since then, cases have expanded across the Midwest and South.
Most people who get the virus are hospitalized but fully recover, although a few have died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Iowa health officials also reported the season’s first case of the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus. The infected person is an adult from Polk County.
About 20% of people infected with the virus will develop fever, headache, body aches and vomiting. Less than 1% become seriously ill, and occasionally someone dies.
“These reports are an important reminder that as Iowans take advantage of outdoor activities, they should take precautions to prevent tick and mosquito bites,” said Dr. Ann Garvey, IDPH deputy state epidemiologist and public health veterinarian.