Tickborne Disease (TBD) 

Current Arkansas Case Count (Tickborne Disease Human Infections )




Lyme Disease

Spotted Fever


 Total Cases



















15 237 0 827 43 1,122 4


16 192 0 896 25 1,129 2


15 200 2 819 32 1,068 1


4 143 0 770 12 929 1

Facts and Information

Tickborne Disease (TBD) is a type of zoonotic disease (an infectious disease transmitted between animals and humans) that is transmitted by ticks, a member of the arachnid family of insects. In Arkansas, ticks are responsible for more human disease than any other insect, but not all ticks transmit disease. Of the many different tick species found in Arkansas, only a select few bite and transmit disease to humans. Click here to learn more about the different kinds of ticks and where they are found.

In Arkansas, the tickborne diseases known to occur are: Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Tularemia.

Many tickborne diseases can have similar signs and symptoms. If you have been bitten by a tick and develop the symptoms below within a few weeks, a health care provider should evaluate the following before deciding on a course of treatment:
  • Your symptoms
  • The geographic region in which you were bitten
  • Diagnostic tests, if indicated by the symptoms and the region where you were bitten
The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses are:
  • Fever/chills: With all tickborne diseases, patients can experience fever at varying degrees and time of onset.
  • Aches and pains: Tickborne disease symptoms include headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. With Lyme disease you may also experience joint pain. The severity and time of onset of these symptoms can depend on the disease and the patient's personal tolerance level. 
  • Rash: Lyme disease, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), ehrlichiosis, and tularemia can result in distinctive rashes.
Tickborne diseases can result in mild symptoms treatable at home to severe infections requiring hospitalization. Although easily treated with antibiotics, these diseases can be difficult for physicians to diagnose. However, early recognition and treatment of the infection decreases the risk of serious complications. So see your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of the symptoms described here.

Tickborne diseases cannot be spread by person-to-person contact.

Heartland Virus

Heartlandvirus is a newly identified phlebovirus that was first isolated from two northwestern Missouri farmers hospital­ized with fever, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia in 2009. It belongs to a family of viruses called Phleboviruses. Viruses in this family are found allover the world. Some of these viruses can cause people to get sick. Most of the phleboviruses that cause people to become ill are passed through the bite of a mosquito, tick, or sandfly. People become infected with Heartland virus through the bite of the Lone Star tick. 

In 2009, two people admitted to a Missouri hospital (Heartland Hospital—hence the name) were later found to be infected with this virus. Both recovered, but following this Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services began working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn more about this virus. To date, more than 20 cases of Heartland virus disease have been identified in several states in Southeast and South Central United States. Arkansas identified its first case in June 2017.

Patients diagnosed with Heartland virus disease generally become sick from May-September. They have a flu-like illness fever, headache, muscle aches,diarrhea, appetite loss, and feel very tired. Most have low numbers of white blood cells that fight infection and low numbers of platelets that help blood clot. Most patients required hospitalization for their illness but fully recover. One patient (out of 20 that have been diagnosed) has died.

People who work or do activities outside, where they are exposed to ticks or insects,are more likely to be infected. There is no vaccine or drug to prevent or treat the disease. Preventing bites from ticks and mosquitoes may prevent this and other infections.
  • Use insect repellents
  • Wear long sleeves and pants
  • Avoid bushy and wooded areas
  • Perform thorough tick checks after spending time outdoors
For more information, click here to access the CDC.

Bourbon Virus

Bourbon virus is a novel RNA virus in the genus Thogotovirus (family Orthomyxoviridae)that was recently discovered in Bourbon County, Kansas. Bourbon virus is the only thogotovirus known to cause human disease in the United States. However,other thogotoviruses, such as Thogotovirus and Dhori virus, are known to cause human disease in other parts of the world.

We do not yet fully know how people become infected with Bourbon virus. However, based on what we know about similar viruses, it is likely that Bourbon virus is spread through tick or other insect bites. Most related viruses that cause human disease are transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, tick, or sand fly.

There have only been a few cases of Bourbon virus disease identified but their distribution is similar to that of Heartland virus (e.g.,Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma). It is unknown at this time if these viruses may be found in other areas of the United States.

As of June 27, 2017, a limited number of Bourbon virus disease cases have been identified in the Midwest and southern United States.Some people who have been infected later died. At this time, we do not know if the virus might be found in other areas of the United States.

Because there have been few cases identified thus far,scientists are still learning about possible symptoms caused by this new virus.People diagnosed with Bourbon virus disease had symptoms including fever,tiredness, rash, headache, other body aches, nausea, and vomiting. They also had low blood counts for cells that fight infection and help prevent bleeding.

People likely become infected with Bourbon virus when they are bitten by a tick or other insect. Therefore, people who do not take steps to protect themselves from tick or insect bites when they work or spend time outside may be more likely to be infected.

There is no vaccine or drug to prevent or treat Bourbon virus disease. Therefore, preventing bites from ticks and other insects may be the best way to prevent infection. Here are ways to protect yourself from tick and other bug bites when you are outdoors:
  • Use insect repellents
  • Wear long sleeves and pants
  • Avoid bushy and wooded areas
  • Perform thorough tick checks after spending time outdoors
Because there is no medicine to treat Bourbon virus disease, doctors can only treat the symptoms. For example, some patients may need to be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids and treatment for pain and fever. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, including Bourbon virus.