You likely know to check yourself for ticks after spending some time outside. Now there's a new virus that doctors believe ticks are spreading and it's showing up in northwest Missouri.
The Heartland virus is significant to the area for a few reasons. First off, it's a good example of being able to make an important medical discovery in a smaller city. Secondly, the name Heartland Virus will always be synonymous with this region of the world and the medical center where it was first identified in two Missouri farmers.
Just more than three years ago, two Missouri farmers walked into Heartland Regional Medical Center with an array of health issues. Robert Wonderly was one of them.
"Felt like my chest was real heavy and my body felt, I don't know if you call it itchy or your skin was moving," he said.
Wonderly thought he might be having a heart attack, but his tests showed no sign for concern.
"A nurse came in. Connie (Wonderly's wife) was talking to her and mentioned she took a tick off me. So she left the room real quick," Wonderly said.
Dr. Scott Folk, an infectious disease doctor at Heartland, was brought in to examine Wonderly. Folk had also seen Larry Smithers, another farmer, who had fallen ill after a tick bite.
"Real sick. I didn't want to eat - wouldn't eat," Smithers said.
Folk immediately noticed similarities between the patients' symptoms.
"Fever, headache, chills, nausea, diarrhea, low white blood count, low platelets, abnormal liver," he said.
Blood samples from the two farmers were immediately sent to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. After months of testing, the CDC determined that the Missouri farmers had a new, unique virus, now named Heartland virus.
There are still a lot of questions that remain about the virus, like if other insects carry it and where the virus source can be found in nature.
But the two farmers are just hopeful that the new medical discovery will lead to better treatments and an eventual cure.
"I hate to see anybody go through what I went through. (I was) Miserable," Smithers said.
And they're glad Folk was there to help.
"I'm glad he has a passion about ticks because I think that probably saved my life," Wonderly said.
Folk gave the following suggestions about how to prevent tick-bites:
Use tick repellant with at least 20 percent DEET.
Tuck your pants into your socks.
Try to avoid walking in wooded or large brush areas where ticks likely live.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Tuesday, June 18 2013 9:23 AM EDT2013-06-18 13:23:30 GMT
A 5-year-old girl set up a lemonade stand across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church compound, and now the group is targeting her. Jayden Sink raised nearly $200 on Friday while she sold lemonadeMore >
A 5-year-old girl set up a lemonade stand across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church compound, and now the group is targeting her.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 6:38 PM EDT2013-06-18 22:38:56 GMT
A convicted Kansas City terrorist was part of a foiled plot to bomb Wall Street, a deputy FBI director told members of Congress Tuesday.Deputy FBI Director Sean Joyce testified Tuesday that the KansasMore >
A convicted Kansas City terrorist was part of a foiled plot to bomb Wall Street, a deputy FBI director told members of Congress Tuesday.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 4:02 PM EDT2013-06-18 20:02:57 GMT
Police are investigating a protest at Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's home as he said Monday he is prepared to use lethal force if necessary.The KCK Police Department issued a statement MondayMore >
Police are investigating a protest at Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's home as he said Monday he is prepared to use lethal force if necessary.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 2:30 PM EDT2013-06-18 18:30:12 GMT
The Kansas City Zoo's rock star is sick, so he's getting some TLC behind the scenes."Nikita is a bit under the weather so he's resting in his behind-the-scenes bedroom," said Julie Neemeyer, spokeswomanMore >
The Kansas City Zoo's rock star is sick, so Nikita is getting some TLC behind the scenes. The polar bear apparently has a tummy bug. More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 8:31 PM EDT2013-06-19 00:31:54 GMT
Thieves stole the National Trails Museum's iconic statute over the weekend, and replacing it would cost an estimated $75,000.Museum officials believe copper thieves sought the 6-foot tall bronze statute,More >
Thieves stole the National Trails Museum's iconic statue over the weekend, and replacing it would cost an estimated $75,000.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 7:47 AM EDT2013-06-18 11:47:53 GMT
Firefighters faced an unexpected danger after flames caused ammunition to go off inside a home that caught fire. Crews were called just before 2 a.m. Tuesday to a home in the 8800 block of WestbrookeMore >
Firefighters faced an unexpected danger after flames caused ammunition to go off inside a home that caught fire.More >