Several years ago, doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital received a patient who was a farmer from Bourbon County, Kansas, who suffered from an unknown disease.
Doctors could not specify the reason why his organs were failing. They tried all kinds of treatments, but after 10 days, his blood pressure collapsed, and his lungs failed.
Yet, Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist at the hospital, suspected a tick-borne illness. She remembers:
“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 is seeming 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.”
The blood tests done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the existence of a new pathogen, similar to overseas illnesses spread by ticks and mosquitoes, and named it the illness “the Bourbon virus”.
After 3 years of the discovery of this illness, it still remains a mystery.
About a year later, a second case was reported in Oklahoma. According to Dr. Hawkinson, other cases might have gone undiagnosed.
“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.”
She believes that the Bourbon virus has caused a broad spectrum of diseases, and the symptoms are generally nonspecific, which makes them hard to identify. Yet, these are the mild case symptoms:
- Muscle Aches
According to Lee Norman, the chief medical officer at KY Hospital, it would be of great help if the CDC offered more flexibility for the testing for this virus.
Prior to testing for the Bourbon virus, they require patients to have multiple specific symptoms, like low white blood cell count, high fever, low platelet count and elevated liver enzymes.
Furthermore, Hawkinson urges people to do all necessary measurements to prevent ticks. You should check for ticks often when you spend much time outdoors, keep wood piles stacked and the grass cut, avoid wooded areas and wear long sleeves and pants when in such areas.
Make sure you watch the following video to get more information on this virus:
The Kansas City Star
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention