Bourbon Virus

A new tick-borne virus has been discovered after the death of a Kansas man this past summer. The virus is called Bourbon Virus-named after Bourbon Country-home to the patient who died. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the patient’s symptoms, including fever and fatigue, were similar to symptoms from other tick-borne diseases (source: WCVB).

The Kansas health department said testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the patient had a virus not previously identified. Health department spokeswoman Aimee Rosenow said it’s still not clear how much the Bourbon virus contributed to the patient’s death. “This was the first known instance and the only confirmed case,” Rosenow said. “This is a new virus, and we are still learning.” (source: WCVB)

Currently there are no vaccines or treatments for the Bourbon Virus. While there isn’t a large cause for concern right now due to low tick activity during the winter months-this is certainly something to be mindful of when the warmer months arrive.

When ticks are more active you should keep the following in mind:

  • Use insect repellent.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when in heavily wooded areas.
  • Shower soon after coming in from outdoors to wash away any ticks that have not attached themselves yet.
  • Always check children and pets for ticks when they come inside from the outdoors.
  • Dr. Tom Mather, director of the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease and its Tick Encounter Resource Center suggests to start by spraying your shoes with repellant: “Treating your shoes is a good idea because the nymphal-stage deer ticks are in leaf litter, and so as your shoes move through the leaf litter, that’s where those ticks take hold. They’re not going to fall out of trees, they’re not going to fly and bite you or anything like that. They’re going to latch onto your shoes and crawl up, and they can crawl up pretty fast. And they’re going to crawl up generally inside your clothes.”
  • Dr. Mather also suggests throwing your clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes to desiccate any ticks you might carry in.

Hopefully in the not too distant future there we will have more information on the Bourbon Virus and what we can do to treat it. Until then, continue to check yourself for ticks and if you show any symptoms after being bitten-call your doctor immediately.