Missouri health department concludes investigation into Bourbon Virus

7 months 4 days 4 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 7:54:00 AM CST December 14, 2017 in News
By: Cameron La Fontaine, KOMU 8 Reporter
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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said it concluded a three-month long investigation into a new virus, which has had one reported case in the state. 

The Bourbon Virus has nothing to do with the alcoholic beverage, but it's a tick-borne illness, first discovered in Bourbon County, Kan. in 2014. 

One Meramec State Park employee became infected by the virus due to a tick-bite and then later died from complications that stemmed from the virus. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced in September it was starting an investigation into the virus along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by testing the blood of some state park workers and then testing ticks. 

According to health department section administrator Ken Palermo, the investigation tested more than 7,000 ticks. 

"How do you catch ticks? You literally walk through the woods with a big white flag that’s made of felt and you drag it through the weeds and through the bushes and then they jump onto that and you pick them off with tweezers and put them in a vile before they climb out onto your hand," Palermo said.

Palermo said the agency can not give out the results of the blood tests done on state park workers because that's private information. But, the tests on the ticks revealed that none of the ticks had the Bourbon Virus.

Symptoms from the virus include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, anorexia, diarrhea, and rash. 

There has only been one case in Missouri of the Bourbon Virus in Missouri. Palermo said it's possible for people to have it and not know. 

"Right now there is no treatment for it, it’s brand new having only been known for about two or three years, it’s a virus that a lot of time folks have built up an immunity to and a lot of times people have it and don’t know it," he said."

In its release, the health department is recommended that people continue to avoid tick bites by wearing insect repellent with at least 20 percent deet while outdoors and to stay on marked or paved trails when out in parks. 

"The fact that we’re talking about Bourbon Virus now is yet another reason why Missourians should be concerned with tick bite prevention," Palermo said. 

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