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BOURBON VIRUS Tick Control, LLC
Bourbon virus is a disease caused by infected tick or insect bites. It was discovered in 2014 by the CDC in Fort Collins, Colorado. The first human case was identified in a man in Bourbon County, Kansas. Since then, 5 more cases of the virus have been confirmed. For now, the disease only occurs in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
Signs and Symptoms
There are still so few cases of Bourbon virus that it’s hard to conclude associated symptoms for the disease. The patient who suffered from the virus in Kansas reported having headache, fatigue, joint pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
This patient died from multiple organ failure and was shown to have lower counts of white blood cells and platelets. Another tick-borne virus, Heartland virus, causes similar effects. Doctors are still unsure, though, that Bourbon virus caused the organ failure that led to the patient’s death, and if it did, to what degree.
It’s also unknown what the incubation period for the virus is – or how long symptoms develop after a tick bite. In a few cases of Bourbon virus, it was reported as 3 days.
What is the Bacterium that Causes Bourbon Virus?
Bourbon virus is not caused by a bacterium – it’s an RNA virus belonging to the virus genus Thogotovirus. Viruses in this genus rarely cause human disease. In fact, the Bourbon virus case in Kansas was only the eighth case of a disease caused by a thogotovirus worldwide. Two cases were previously reported in Nigeria.
Diagnosis of Bourbon virus is extremely difficult since it’s so rare. While in some cases it has resembled other tick-borne diseases clinically, doctors still cannot be certain. The CDC, however, has been able to use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing to identify the genetic material of Bourbon virus.
Which Types of Tick Carry Bourbon Virus?
The lone star tick is a carrier for Bourbon virus. It’s unconfirmed, though, if the virus is only carried by ticks or if it’s also transmitted by mosquitoes. The lone star tick is also a vector for Heartland virus, Powassan virus, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), and ehrlichiosis.
The lone star tick was found primarily in the Southeast of the United States until recent years, when its populations started expanding in the Midwest and Northeast. For now, researchers are still unaware of how frequently Bourbon virus can be transmitted by lone star ticks.
Risk factors for Bourbon virus disease are exposure to lone star ticks. These ticks are usually found in wooded areas outdoors. Doctors are unsure how long the tick must be attached and feeding on its host before the virus is transmitted. To avoid Bourbon virus, it’s best to avoid areas that could be tick habitats. It’s also unlikely that the disease is transmitted by means other than infected tick or insect bite – it doesn’t appear to be contagious.
Cures and Treatments
There are no specific cures or treatments for Bourbon virus disease. As it’s a virus, it cannot be treated with antibiotics and there are no recommended antiviral medications for it. There is also no vaccine available.
Doctors therefore recommend prevention as the best method for avoiding Bourbon virus. Avoidance of areas where you may be exposed to ticks or biting insects is a sure way to protect yourself from this disease.
Recent testing on mice with Bourbon virus has shown that there may be a cure. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190613143522.htm The drug favipiravir, an antiviral medication used in treating influenza, successfully cured mice with the Bourbon virus. The drug isn’t available in the U.S. but is used to treat the flu in Japan. The researchers who worked on this study suggest that looking at antiviral flu medicines is the best place to start in searching for a cure for Bourbon virus disease.
Areas in Danger of Being Bitten
So far in the United States, cases are limited to 3 states – Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. One patient in Kansas (the aforementioned Bourbon County case) and one patient in Missouri died after having Bourbon virus disease.
Bourbon virus, therefore, does not appear to be a threat in Connecticut for the time being. The lone star tick was discovered recently in Connecticut, though. Since this tick is a vector for several other diseases, precautions should be taken to avoid being bitten.
Avoid wooded, bushy areas where ticks like to hide. If you do venture into these outdoor areas, use DEET repellent to ward off ticks. If you’re planning to go hiking or camping, the CDC recommends treating your clothes in permethrin beforehand. Upon returning home, always check yourself and your pets for ticks before going back inside.
With the right preventive measures, you can protect yourself and your family from tick-borne diseases. For more info from the CDC about tick bite prevention, check out this link. https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html
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At Tick Control, LLC, owners and technicians are UConn trained and Connecticut State certified. We take great pride in offering impeccable customer service, professional demeanor, and the most up-to-date tick control methods available today. Remember... tick infestations can be dangerous! Ticks are known vectors of Lyme Disease, Powassan virus, and many other serious diseases.