Man Dies from Rare, New Disease Associated with Tick Bites

An extraordinary case happened several years ago at the University of Kansas Hospital when the doctors received a patient struggling with an unknown disease. This patient was a farmer from Bourbon County, Kansas, whose organs were completely failing. The doctors could not determine the cause for this condition. Even though they tried every possible treatment, after 10 days, his blood pressure collapsed, and his lungs failed.

However, Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist at the hospital, suspected a tick-borne illness. Here is the way how she looked upon on this particular case, quoting:

“We didn’t have an answer for the longest time as to why is he not getting better? What is causing this? Nothing that we’re doing seems to help even though we’re going to the nth degree to try and give him supportive care and give him active care to try and get him better.”

According to the conducted blood tests at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the existence of a new pathogen was discovered, similar to overseas illnesses spread by ticks and mosquitoes. They named this illness “the Bourbon virus”. Three years have passed from the discovery of this illness, and the mystery about it still remains unsolved.

Unfortunately, after one year from the first case another one appeared in Oklahoma.  Dr. Hawkinson maintains that there are also other cases which may have gone undiagnosed, quoting:

 “I can’t give you a specific number, but certainly cases where people were ill and we think it looks like one sort of disease, but it isn’t and they end up recovering or they die and that’s what it truly is.”

According to her acknowledgements Bourbon virus causes a wide range of diseases, and there are no specific symptoms thus making it hard to identify. Nevertheless, these mild case symptoms were detected:

  • Chills
  • Muscle Aches
  • Malaise
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The chief medical officer at KY Hospital, Lee Norman states that it would be of great assistance if the CDC provided more flexibility for the testing of this virus.

Before patients are tested for the Bourbon virus, they have to show multiple specific symptoms, such as low white blood cell count, high fever, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count.

You need to know that you are the ones who need to protect yourself from ticks. Hawkinson suggests frequent checkup for ticks if you spend more time outdoors; make sure to keep the wood piles stacked and grass cut, avoid staying in wooded areas and if you are obliged to be there wear long sleeves and pants.

Watch the video below and find more useful information on this virus:


Other sources included:
The Kansas City Star
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention