Summary: After running multiple tests for infectious diseases on a recently deceased Kansas man, the CDC has announced that a fatal new virus has been found in the US.
On Friday the CDC announced the discovery of a new virus that they believe contributed to the 2014 death of a Kansas man.
Named after Bourbon county, where the patient lived, the virus is currently believed to be spread by tick or insect bites because the victim suffered multiple tick bites while working in his yard before falling ill. The Bourbon virus has been categorized as part of a group of viruses called thogotoviruses, which are linked to tick or insect bites in Europe, Asia and Africa. The agency has stated that the 2014 case is the first time a virus in this group has been known to cause illness in the United States.
The case, as detailed in the CDC article in the agency’s “Infectious Diseases” journal, states:
“The patient was a previously healthy man >50 years of age from Bourbon County, Kansas, USA. While working outdoors on his property in late spring 2014, the patient had several tick bites and found an engorged tick on his shoulder several days before he became ill with nausea, weakness, and diarrhea. The following day, a fever, anorexia, chills, headache, myalgia, and arthralgia developed. On the third day of illness, the patient went to his primary care physician, who empirically prescribed doxycycline for a presumed tickborne illness because of his history of tick bites, symptoms, and no reported travel outside the immediate area. The following morning, the patient’s wife found him obtunded (experiencing reduced consciousness) but arousable. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.”
The CDC press release stated that while the man was hospitalized, test results for many infectious diseases came back negative. After testing blood samples they received, the agency was able to determine that a new virus had been discovered.
While this is only the first case and much remains unknown about the Bourbon virus, all the information the CDC currently has is featured on their website. The limited information means the CDC cannot recommend treatment for the illness so they are currently recommending prevention. Their Bourbon article on the agency’s website encourages people to protect themselves from transmission via tick bites by using insect repellents, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, avoiding bushy and wooded areas and checking for ticks after spending time outdoors.