Bourbon Virus: Deadly Tick-Borne Disease Discovered In Kansas

Researchers in Kansas have discovered a deadly new disease that they have named the Bourbon Virus, which is believed to be the cause of a 68-year-old man’s death this summer.

The Centers for Disease Control are investigating the virus, according to the Daily Mail, after doctors struggled for months to identify it. John Seested, 68, entered the University of Kansas Medical Center this summer, displaying the symptoms of a tick-borne disease, including high fever, severe headache, muscle aches, and nausea. However, he tested negative for any known diseases transmitted by ticks, according to WPTV.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an Infectious Disease Physician at the hospital, recalled the difficulties physicians faced in identifying the virus.

“It was very frustrating. That’s one of the biggest problems with my job, which I love, when we can’t answer those questions, when we can’t help the patients or their families.”

Seested didn’t respond to treatment, and eventually passed away from multiple organ failure. Now, six months after his death, the CDC has determined that he suffered from the Bourbon virus, which they named after Bourbon County, Kansas, where he lived.

“We continued to push and have concerns as to why this happened. The CDC was on board with us and was able to help us with that and we were now able to identify this new virus,” Dr. Hawkinson observed.

It is unclear how long the virus has existed, or if anyone else has contracted the disease. The CDC asserted that the best possible way to prevent the virus is to avoid exposure to ticks.

Dr. Hawkinson noted that the virus may have implications for other patients, who may not know that they have contracted it.

“This may be a cause of other people’s illness as well and those will be steps we’re going to be looking at with the CDC too,” she said.

Earlier this year, enterovirus 68 spread across the United States, and though it was overshadowed by fears of an Ebola virus outbreak, it arguably posed a larger public health risk. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the virus spread to 43 different states, with 514 cases of infection confirmed by October. Unlike the Ebola virus, enterovirus 68 is highly contagious, presenting symptoms similar to those associated with the flu or the common cold. If caught in its early stages, the virus can be controlled and treated.

Bourbon County reported a total of five cases of tick-borne illnesses in 2014, according to the Fort Scott Tribune. As researchers have only recently identified it, there is currently no vaccine for the Bourbon virus.

[Image: Getty via the Daily Mail]