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Officials warn: rare tickborne illness found in Illinois

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A rare virus, spread by ticks, has been confirmed in Illinois, according to officials with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

A resident of Kankakee recently tested positive for Heartland virus, which was first identified in 2009 after two Missouri farmers who had been bitten by ticks were admitted to the hospital.

Almost all individuals infected with Heartland have been hospitalized, the IDPH says, and a few deaths have been reported. There are no vaccines available to prevent Heartland infections.

The disease is thought to spread through the Lone Star tick. More than 30 cases have been reported in the Midwest and southern states.

Signs and symptoms of infection are similar to those of other tickborne diseases and can include fever, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and diarrhea.  Most people have reported becoming sick about two weeks after being bit by a tick.  And while there is no treatment, doctors can treat some of the symptoms.  If you have been bitten by a tick and think you may have Heartland virus or another tickborne illness, visit a health care provider.

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