Ticks

U.S. Centers for Disease Control

Summer vacation season is heating up with residents venturing into woodlands to hike and camp, but danger may be lurking in the forest, in the form of infected ticks.

Arkansas has some of the highest rates of tick-borne illness in the country. And this summer a new disease has been confirmed by state health officials: the Heartland virus, so-named because it’s spreading across America’s heartland.

The Heartland virus was first detected eight years ago, in Missouri, after two farmers were hospitalized with a mysterious debilitating illness.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control

Ticks are tiny blood-sucking arachnids that feed on deer, birds, rabbits, squirrels, rodents and lizards. During bloodmeals, Arkansas ticks may absorb pathogens naturally carried by wildlife, with strange names like Tularema, Rickettsia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and Borrelia. So when ticks feed on people, they regurgitate bacteria into the bloodstream.