Kansas death from months ago now linked to tick-borne virus new to USA

Kansas death from months ago now linked to tick-borne virus new to USA

Researchers have identified a previously unknown virus, thought to be transmitted by ticks or mosquitoes, that led to the death of a farmer in Kansas last summer.

The illness was fast-moving and severe, causing lung and kidney failure, and shock. The man, previously healthy, died after about only 10 days in the hospital, according to Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist who treated the patient at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City.

The newly discovered microbe has been named the Bourbon virus, for the county where the patient lived, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said in a statement released Monday. The virus was identified by scientists at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Preventionthrough a process that took several months, according to Dr. J. Erin Staples, a medical epidemiologist at the C.D.C. laboratory in Fort Collins, Colo.

She said the virus was a type of thogotovirus, part of a larger family known as orthomyxoviruses. Its nearest relatives are found in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, Dr. Hawkinson said. Those viruses are spread by ticks and mosquitoes. …

There is no treatment for the disease. The best defense is to avoid insect bites by wearing pants and long sleeves outdoors and applying bug spray that contains the repellent DEET. …

For now, the risk to the public is low because ticks and mosquitoes are not active in cold weather. But ticks rebound earlier in the year than mosquitoes do, she said, once the temperature starts consistently reaching 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

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