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Rare Case of Tick-Borne Bourbon Virus Identified In Missouri

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Bourbon Virus, spread by ticks, has only been identified a few times since its discovery in Kansas in 2014.

State health officials say a Missouri resident has tested positive for a rare virus spread by ticks, and they are encouraging people to protect themselves.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) that the resident tested positive for the Bourbon virus, according to a DHSS news release.

The Bourbon virus was first identified in Kansas in 2014. The 50-year-old male Kansas farmer who contracted the virus died, although its unclear if the virus was the cause of his death.

Only a few cases have been identified in the Midwest and South since then.

The Missouri resident is believed to have been exposed to the virus while in the state.

Health officials are now conducting a tick study in Meramec State Park, about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis, which they describe as an "area of interest," although they don’t believe exposure risk there is greater than in other parts of the state.

Symptoms of Bourbon virus include fever, headaches, body aches, rash and fatigue. There is no routine test, treatment or vaccine available for the virus.

Health officials advise people to stay away from brushy areas and long grass, wear long sleeves and use insect repellent containing DEET.

Alex Smith is a health reporter for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @AlexSmithKCUR

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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