Missouri Mom Dies After Contracting The Bourbon Virus, An Untreatable Tick-Borne Illness

Tamela Wilson, a Missouri mom, died one month after contracting an untreatable tick-borne illness. While working at the Meramec State Park in May, Wilson discovered two ticks attached to her body.

The 58-year-old Missouri mom of one removed the two ticks and continued on with her daily duties as assistant park superintendent. Several days later, Tamela Wilson was struck by both nausea and fever and ultimately became lethargic.

Missouri doctors were reportedly confused by the sudden illness and diagnosed Wilson with a urinary tract infection. The Meramec State Park worker was sent home from the hospital with antibiotics, but her health continued to deteriorate.

A week after the ticks attached themselves to her body, Tamela Wilson took a turn for the worse and was admitted to the hospital. It was only after additional blood work was completed that doctors realized she was afflicted with the Bourbon virus. The untreatable and rare tick-borne illness first presented in patients in 2014.

Wilson was immediately placed in the intensive care unit of the hospital. For weeks, her doctors attempted to thwart the Bourbon virus, but their efforts proved unsuccessful, as additional medical problems were created due to the tick bites.

The Missouri mom developed hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis -- a condition that causes the mutation of immune cells -- and pneumonia. After suffering from what Wilson's loved ones described as excruciating pain for weeks, she died.

Kathy Potter, Tamela Wilson's stepmother, told Fox 6 News reporters no one would wish the Bourbon virus on their "worst enemy." Potter said what happened to her stepdaughter makes people afraid to even go outside.

Geoff Wilson, the tick-borne illness victim's father, said the doctors at the Missouri hospital were "beside themselves" and described the case as a "medical mystery."

There is no vaccine or treatment for the Bourbon virus. It is a version of thogotovirus, but it causes a different effect on the human body. Thogotovirus often sparks the development of meningitis and causes the lining of the brain to become inflamed. The untreatable tick-borne virus attacks and ultimately destroys white blood cells at a rapid rate.

Wilson became ill at the same time as an outbreak of Ehrlichiosis was sweeping the state, according to the Daily Mail. The illness provokes intense flu-like symptoms and is also contracted and transmitted by ticks.

Tamela Wilson's Bourbon virus case is the first-ever case reported in Missouri. Only five Americans have been stricken with the deadly tick-borne illness.

[Featured Image by Steven Ellingson/Shutterstock]