In the spring of 2014, a Bourbon County, Kansas farmer sought hospital treatment. Eleven days later, he died. His symptoms included fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and a rash. Blood work showed thrombocytopenia (reduced platelet count, which inhibits clotting making the patient more susceptible to bleeding) and leukopenia (reduced white blood cell count, inhibiting immune response to the pathogen). The patient said he had been bitten by ticks.
The CDC determined the man suffered from a never before encountered RNA virus of the genus Thogotovirus, viruses that are found around the world. There is no cure for Bourbon virus. There has not yet been another identified case of this virus. Scientists do not know if this virus affects other animals. Naturally, there is concern about whether there is a new virus spreading from tick to tick and across the animal kingdom that we have little to no treatment for, but we can remain vigilant and take care of ourselves and our pets to lessen the likelihood of exposure. MORE