New tick-borne illness found in Missouri - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New tick-borne illness found in Missouri

(Source: Wikimedia Commons) (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Missouri leads the nation in tick related diseases, and a new virus could be making it's way to the Heartland.

It's already infected two men, and possibly many more, and there's no cure.

It's actually been in Missouri for at least four years, but scientists just figured out what it was.

The virus causes low white blood cell counts, fever, chills, diarrhea and other symptoms.

And while it's only been confirmed in the northwestern part of the state, experts say it's only a matter of time before it comes here.

"It's likely it's present in a wider geography than we know of right now," said Bob Gillespie with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The first two men who had the virus were in the hospital for two weeks to recover.

"Supportive care is the best. Take your fever reducer, rest, and drink plenty of fluids," said Dr. Susan Besser.

And it's also tough to avoid ticks all together in the summer, but here are some tips to reduce your risk of suffering a tick related illness.

Use bug spray with DEET if you're going to be outdoors.

Also treat your clothes with permethrin.

Try to avoid heavily wooded areas where ticks like to hang out.

And finally wear long sleeves and light colors when you're working outside.

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