Federal health officials are investigating the emergence of a virus new to the United States that they say may have contributed to the 2014 death of a previously healthy Kansas man.
The virus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named Bourbon for the county where the diagnosed patient lived, is part of a groups of viruses called thogotoviruses that is usually transmitted through ticks.
The first known case of human illness from Bourbon virus in the U.S. was reported Friday in the latest issue of the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The patient was described in the study as a man over the age of 50 who had experienced several tick bites while working outdoors. He became ill several days later with initial symptoms that included nausea, weakness and diarrhea, which later progressed to fever, anorexia, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain.
The man reportedly visited his doctor on the third day of his illness, where he was prescribed an antibiotic for what was thought to be a tickborne illness. The patient eventually died 11 days after becoming ill, according to the report.
A range of tests were performed for a variety of infectious diseases that included hepatitis B and C, West Nile virus and HIV, but all came back negative. The virus was eventually detected while CDC researchers were investigating the possible existence of the Heartland virus, which is also transmitted by ticks.
The Kansas man is the only known case of Bourbon virus to occur in the U.S. The virus is native to Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.
The CDC has been working with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the University of Kansas Hospital in its investigation of the virus.
“Bourbon virus has likely been around for some time, but only recently did we have the diagnostic techniques to isolate and identify such viruses,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Kansas Hospital in a statement posted on the facility's website.
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