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New so-called Bourbon virus linked to Kansas man's death after tick bite

By
Danielle Haynes

ATLANTA, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. health officials are investigating a newly discovered virus linked to the death of a Kansas man who became sick after he was bitten by a tick in April.

The so-called Bourbon virus -- named after the county where the man became infected -- is part of a group of viruses called thogotoviruses.

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Researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered the virus while they were investigating another rare, tick-borne virus, Heartland virus. The researchers noticed the sample from the deceased Kansas man looked different from the other Heartland virus samples and after sequencing its genome determined the Bourbon virus was something never before seen.

As of this month, the Kansas man is the only known person to contract the virus, and researchers in Kansas and with the CDC believe he may have become sick through the tick bite.

"It is not known if Bourbon virus was the cause of death or how much it contributed to the resident's death," a release from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said.

The man experienced fever, tiredness, rash, headache, body aches, nausea and vomiting. He also had low blood counts for cells that fight infection and prevent bleeding, the CDC said. The man, who was over the age of 50, was previously healthy.

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