Sunday, January 04, 2015
Death of farmer in Kansas tied to insect-borne virus not previously seen in Western Hemisphere
A farmer in Kansas died apparently of a tick-borne (or possibly mosquito) virus never seen before in the western hemisphere. The disease caused prolonged hepatitis and encephalitis, with weight loss, and eventual organ failures. Medscape has an article here. The virus has been named Bourbon virus, after the county in SE Kansas where the farmer lived (near Fort Scott). It was identified at a University of Kansas hospital, as a “thogotovirus”, part of a group of viruses called orthomyoxvirus, distantly re related to influenza.
Huffington Post has an article here.
The virus seems to be known in Eastern Europe and Africa. CDC does not yet have a page on it; the closest match is this.
The death occurred last summer and there may well be milder cases. It is not known if the virus could be transmitted in other ways, or how the virus even arrived in the US Midwest. It does not seem to occur very often. But people, at least in this area of the country, should be vigilant about insect bites when in grassy or wooded areas.