Health officials issue warning about new tick-borne disease

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WILDWOOD, MO - Officials with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services are warning about the Bourbon Virus, a new potentially deadly tick borne illness.

The department announced that not much is known about the virus since it was first discovered in 2014 in Bourbon County, KS.

Health officials said DHSS was notified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that a Missouri resident tested positive for Bourbon virus infection.

Tim Maxvill of Any Lab Test Now in Chesterfield said that so far, he has seen a few patients come into his clinic concerned about whether they've been bitten.

"If there is virus attached in that tick then you begin to have symptoms which is swelling of that area and flu like symptoms like nausea," Maxvill said.

"You don't know until that virus is in your body," he continued, "and you start having symptoms. If you are out and about and you go fishing and your family goes camping or floating and you've been bit by a tick, to relieve the stress of having a problem, just get a blood test done."

DHSS staff, including local public health authorities, and the CDC are currently collecting ticks in Missouri for Bourbon virus testing.

This will help to determine what the health risk is to people who are bitten by ticks.

Known symptoms of Bourbon virus include fever, headache, body aches, rash and fatigue. Most people have a full recovery from tick-borne disease. However, DHSS statistics indicate that people over age 50 and those with chronic health problems are more likely to develop a serious illness that can lead to complications.

Avoiding exposure to ticks is critical to the prevention of tick-borne disease. Beyond staying away from brushy areas and long grass where ticks hunt, the best practice to avoid tick bites is to use a repellent with a minimum of 20% DEET.

Keeping lawns cut short and trimming shrubs and trees to increase sunlight can help make these areas less hospitable for ticks.

The CDC, with help from Missouri, Kansas and other states, is looking for additional patients who may be infected with the Bourbon virus.

The investigation also involves laboratory scientists who are working to develop a test for the virus that can be used by doctors and laboratories.