New 'Bourbon Virus' Kills Kansas Man

Tick-borne disease was named after county
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2014 11:11 PM CST
Updated Dec 27, 2014 4:14 PM CST
New 'Bourbon Virus' Linked to Kansas Death
Researchers believe the virus is spread through ticks like this deer tick.   (AP Photo/Victoria Arocho, File)

A deadly virus new to science may be lurking in the woods of Kansas, according to researchers at the University of Kansas Hospital. A man who died in the state in June is the only known victim of the "Bourbon Virus," which is believed to be tick-borne and was named after the county where he lived, reports ABC News. It took hospital researchers working with CDC researchers six months to explain the death of the man, who suffered multiple organ failure after reporting symptoms in line with those of other tick-borne diseases but testing negative for all of them and failing to respond to the usual treatments. He also displayed one unusual symptom: anorexia. "They just feel bad, and they just don't feel like eating," explains Dr. Dana Hawkinson, the hospital's infectious disease expert, in a video.

"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," Hawkinson tells KSHB. Researchers say the virus, whose genome shares similarities with African and Asian viruses but doesn't resemble anything found in the Western Hemisphere before, may have been responsible for more illnesses and they plan to investigate further. (In 2012, two Missouri farmers became the first known victims of the "Heartland" tick-borne virus.)

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