Heartland Virus Transmission, Suffolk County, New York, USA

Alan P. Dupuis II; Melissa A. Prusinski; Collin O'Connor; Joseph G. Maffei; Kiet A. Ngo; Cheri A. Koetzner; Michael P. Santoriello; Christopher L. Romano; Guang Xu; Fumiko Ribbe; Scott R. Campbell; Stephen M. Rich; P. Bryon Backenson; Laura D. Kramer; Alexander T. Ciota


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2021;27(12):3128-3132. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


During 2018, Heartland virus RNA was detected in an Amblyomma americanum tick removed from a resident of Suffolk County, New York, USA. The person showed seroconversion. Tick surveillance and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) serosurveys showed widespread distribution in Suffolk County, emphasizing a need for disease surveillance anywhere A. americanum ticks are established or emerging.


Heartland virus (HRTV; Phenuviridae, Bandavirus) is an emerging human pathogen initially isolated from patients in Missouri, USA, during 2009.[1] Since then, ≥50 known human cases have been identified in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.[2–5]Amblyomma americanum, the lone star tick, has been implicated in HRTV transmission and maintenance.[6–8] Small-sized and medium-sized mammals and ground dwelling birds, such as wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), serve as hosts for immature ticks. Adult ticks feed primarily on large mammals, such as coyotes (Canis latrans) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Ticks at all 3 active developmental stages will bite humans.[9] Serologic evidence in mammal hosts, including white-tailed deer, indicates that HRTV is distributed primarily in the Midwest and southeast United States, as well as the northeastern Atlantic coast.[10–12]

During August 2018, New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) epidemiologists were notified that HRTV RNA was detected in an A. americanum nymph removed from a resident of Long Island, New York, USA. This infected tick was tested at the University of Massachusetts (https://www.tickreport.com).

In response, the NYSDOH and Suffolk County Department of Health Services conducted tick surveillance and performed HRTV serologic analysis on the person from whom the tick was removed. Analysis was also performed for a hunter-harvested white-tailed deer in Suffolk County.