After initial reports in Dec. 2014, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is currently conducting further investigations to learn more about a newly discovered virus, finally identified seven months after the death of the only known patient. The virus was named the Bourbon Virus after the victim’s state of residence.
Initial symptoms included fever, discomfort, fatigue and anorexia. Later, muscle aches and abnormal blood tests appeared. The patient eventually died from lung and kidney failure within about ten days of his admittance.
“That caused a lot of frustration for myself and the other medical personnel caring for him, because we just couldn’t answer questions to the family and to ourselves as to why this was happening,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, a infectious diseases specialist, in a video released by the University of Kansas Hospital.
After a joint investigation conducted by the KDHE and the U.S. Center for Disease Control & Prevention, the culprit virus was found.
Antibodies did not work on Bourbon Virus as they do with similar diseases, which are caused by bacteria. A working treatment has not yet been developed.
“This one differs in the fact that we’ve never seen it before,” Hawkinson said. “And obviously the only patient that we’ve seen with it unfortunately passed away.”
However, experts say “it appears to be a tick-borne illness”, and therefore is not a problem during winter. Even as warmer weather approaches, one should be able to avoid the disease by properly avoiding ticks. The KDHE recommends people to use insect repellent, leave little exposed skin and remember to check bodies and pets for ticks, especially around wooded areas.