A Deadly Virus Causing Death After A Tick Bite!

First Published 2015

A 50 year old Kansas man died due to a disease transmitted by ticks. The incident occurred when the said man was working outside on his property in the spring of 2014. The U.S. Officials in February 2015 have finally confirmed now that his death was due to a virus which was transmitted by ticks. The Center for Disease Control backed up the same statement in an article in the journal titled “Emerging Infectious Diseases” published by this agency.

The virus has been named as Bourbon Virus, which is named after the county in which the deceased fell ill and this virus is likely spread by ticks. The specie of Bourbon Virus belongs to the genus of Thogotovirus belonging to the family of Orthomyxoviridae. The genus thogotovirus has 4 species in it. All the species mentioned are transmitted through ticks which are unsuspecting carriers. The name Thogotovirus came into being after it was discovered in the ticks in the region of Thogoto forest in Kenya. These viruses can replicate in both the vertebrate cells and tick cells. They are transmitted through tick bites, meaning ticks are the careers which carry the strain of this virus and once the tick bites a healthy human the strain of the virus replicates in the human body. This was the first recorded incident of the death of a man due to Bourbon Virus. And hence it came as a wake up call to the Center for Disease Control to start searching for a remedy to reverse the effects this virus has.

The man who suffered from tick bites died two weeks later due to this virus. The sequence of events is as follows. The man fell ill over the next two days immediately after suffering from tick bites. He went to the doctor after he found and engorged tick bite on his shoulder. The symptoms reported by him initially were fever and headache. The doctor he went to prescribed him the antibiotics which are usually prescribed to prevent any diseases transmitted by ticks. But these medicines failed to work. And on the third day he was hospitalized. The man’s condition did not improve and started deteriorating gradually. Over the next couple of days his kidneys started shutting off, then he went into multiple organ failure and ultimately after 11 days he died due to a heart attack. While this man was hospitalized his blood samples were sent to discover the pathogen which was causing his symptoms. Tests results of many infectious diseases had come back as negative, that is none of the known diseases were tested positive for. And a blood sample was also sent to the Center for Disease Control, where it was discovered that the sample sent showcased an entirely new virus, something which hasn’t been noticed before, the press release said. The researchers at this agency identified this pathogen only after looking for genetic traces in the man’s blood.

This man’s death is the first case of death caused by thogotovirus in the United States and only the eighth case where similar symptoms were recorded. The man’s symptoms included rash, fever, tiredness, headache and other body aches, nausea and vomiting. Added on to this the white blood cell count was low. The white blood cells are the body’s first line of defense against pathogens and helps in fighting off the disease ad prevents bleeding too. Though before the man had taken ill he was healthy, said the report. In the same report it needs to be noticed that even though the agency had only one case to work with it was observed that this Bourbon Virus is most likely spread through insect or tick bites. The thogoto strain in the past was contained only to the tropical regions.

There are a couple of precautions which the centre for Disease Control recommends people to take. The agency has asked people to protect themselves from insect and in specific tick bites by using insect repellents, it is advisable to wear long sleeved shirts and pants, avoid bushy and wooded areas. And it is also advisable to check for insect or tick bites after such exposure. And it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately if any such insect bites are to be found.

Right after this shocking discovery the CDC also had the shock of discovering a new strain of pathogens known as Heartland virus, which was discovered in the recent discovery of Heartland virus in Missouri, also possibly linked to ticks. The CDC has published that these pathogens and the health risk which they pose to the public has been underestimated. And research has been going on to find out more about this species of virus before it turns into an epidemic.