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An American woman has succumbed to the Bourbon virus, a rare tick-borne illness, and its complications.
While on an outdoor trip on Mothers’ Day, Tamela Wilson, a 58-year-old assistant superintendent at the Meramec State Park in Missouri, noticed two ticks—bloodsucking arthropods—clinging to her skin. Shortly after removing them from her body, she began feeling ill.
Wilson was initially diagnosed with Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Despite taking antibiotics, she remained in bad shape. As she continued to have headaches, rashes, and a low white blood cell count, she was admitted to the hospital. Although she first tested negative for tick-borne diseases, later examination at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) confirmed that she was infected by the Bourbon virus.
While fighting the disease, Wilson developed pneumonia and another fatal disease that affects immune cells. These complications led to her death.
Wilson was only the fifth confirmed case of the virus, and little is known about it. It was first discovered in 2014 after a farmer from Bourbon County in Kansas caught the disease and died. Cases of the virus are rare and have been detected in the Midwest and southern United States.
Other symptoms of the disease include fever, fatigue, and nausea. Although there is no known cure for the disease, research is being conducted to learn more about the virus. Nevertheless, doctors can manage the symptoms and take measures to boost patients’ chances of surviving the disease.
According to Wilson’s family, she donated her body as a way of helping medical researchers find a possible cure for the next Bourbon virus victim.