Case of Bourbon virus, rare tick disease, is confirmed in Missouri

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Here’s a warning about a rare, potentially deadly virus that is transmitted by ticks. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services confirms it is aware of a case of Bourbon virus in the state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services this week began trapping and collecting ticks at Meramec State Park near Sullivan. They’ll test them for any kind of tick-borne illness.

Though Meramec State Park is an area of interest in the Bourbon virus investigation, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources says it has no information to suggest the potential exposure risk at the park is any greater than anywhere else in Missouri. Meramec Park and its facilities will remain open during the tick collection process.

According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, this is only the fourth confirmed case of Bourbon virus in the country. The virus can be fatal but state officials won’t confirm if this case killed someone.

Bourbon virus was first discovered in 2014 in Bourbon County, Kan., but not much is known about the disease. There is no specific test for Bourbon virus, and identifying it requires additional testing by the Centers for Disease Control. No vaccine is available.

The virus is probably under-diagnosed because the symptoms are the same as any tick-transmitted disease. The two most common tick-borne diseases in Missouri are Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis.

“All of these tick-born illnesses start out similarly, with headache, fever, chills, sometimes nausea and vomiting and body aches,” said Dr. John Brown, a Travel Medicine physician with Mercy Hospital. “So all of those symptoms, especially in the summertime and especially if you’ve been outdoors around ticks, are very suspicious for a tick-born illness.”

Officials collecting and testing ticks near Sullivan will look for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis and Bourbon virus. Since all three of those viruses present similar symptoms, Brown said quick diagnosis and quick supportive care are important.

There are also things you can do to help prevent tick bites. First, be sure to use bug spray on your…

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