Another insect to worry about….

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Just when you thought it was safe to go into the woods, Missouri is home for a new virus carried by ticks, scientists reported Monday.

Lone star ticks in northwestern Missouri are responsible for infecting two men with what is called the heartland virus.

The two men infected in 2009 suffered from the infection that causes fever, headaches, and low white blood cell and platelet counts. They recovered after spending time in hospitals.

Harry M. Savage, a professor and researcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was lead author of a Monday online report in the  American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

He and his team collected more than 56,000 ticks from the area last year and found the virus in nymph stage ticks.

Star ticks, which do not carry Lyme disease, are common in Missouri and many other parts of the country.

The virus, also called HRTV, appears to be related to another new disease recently discovered in China, Science Daily reported Monday.

That life-threatening Chinese virus called severe fever with thrombocytopenia also appears to be carried by ticks but there is also evidence of person-to-person transmission.

The virus found in Missouri is related to a group of viruses that can be carried by ticks, sandflies and mosquitos.

Savage said studies are still underway to find the “reservoir hosts” that pass the virus to the ticks.

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