A Missouri woman died June 23 after contracting a rare tick-borne illness called Bourbon virus.
The woman, 58-year-old Tamela Wilson, began feeling unwell in late May, shortly after she’d spotted and removed two ticks from her body, CBS Newsreported. Soon, her health deteriorated further — she had severe headaches, pain and a light red rash, and tests showed that she had a low white blood cell count.
Wilson was admitted to the Barnes-Jewish Hospital on May 31, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A blood test ruled out another tick-borne illness, so her blood was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which confirmed she had Bourbon virus.
Three weeks after she was admitted to the hospital, Wilson died.
“The doctors were beside themselves,” her father, Geoff Potter, told Wave 3 News. “They said it was a medical mystery.” While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t know much about the illness, researchers do know that people can become infected with it after being bit by a tick. Symptoms can include fever, tiredness, rash, headache, body aches, nausea, and vomiting. Doctors can treat the symptoms, but there is no treatment to cure the disease.
Now Tamela’s family wants everyone to be aware of the virus and its symptoms. “It’s not something that any doctor would look for,” Tamela’s stepmother, Kathy Potter, said. “You have to present it to them, and by the time you find out, it might be too late.” Tamela’s family donated her body to science so doctors can learn more about the illness and help others.
Right now, there are no drugs to treat the disease, and no vaccines to prevent it. The best way to prevent Bourbon virus is to prevent tick bites, according to the CDC. You can do this by using insect repellants, wearing long sleeves and pants, avoiding bushy or wooded areas, and checking for ticks after spending time outdoors.
Article Sources: Madworld News
Video Credit: Youtube/Lyme Channel