Bourbon Virus: Deadly Tick-Borne Illness

A frightening tick borne virus that cannot be treated has surfaced. It is called the "Bourbon Virus."

Researchers named it that because the first case was reported in Bourbon County, Kansas in 2014. A Minnesota woman died after contracting it last month.

Routine testing for the virus does not exist, but it is thought to be transmitted by ticks. The CDC is looking into more extensive testing, but treatment does not currently exist according to Dr. Kristina Orio with AFC Urgent Care. She said unlike Lyme disease, this virus is rare and those who get it can recover, but for some it is severe.

"There is no cure for this virus and it can cause permanent neurological damage or death," said Orio.

As of June 27, there have been a limited number of Bourbon Virus cases in the Midwest and southern states.

Symptoms include:

- Fever

- Rash

- Headache

- Body Aches

Bourbon virus tick symptoms

Bourbon Virus symptoms are also symptoms for Lyme disease. Dr. Orio said there is no way to know if the virus will spead east, but in numbers NBC Boston obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Lyme disease cases are up compared to last summer.

Bourbon virus tick 1
Bourbon virus tick 2

The latest Massachusetts statistics show 800 cases in May of 2016 compared to 1,372 cases in May of 2017. There were 2,068 cases in June of 2016 with 2,250 cases this June.

Dr. Orio urges people to be vigilant as we are in the peak of deer tick season.

"It’s very important when you’re outside to wear full coverage clothing, tuck your pants into your socks, and wear light clothing so that you can see any ticks on you," Dr. Orio said.

The CDC recommends using tick repellent that contains 20 percent or more deet and to use products that contain Permethrin on clothing.

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