Sep 21, 2018 | Updated: 04:34 PM EDT

Tick-Bourne ‘Bourbon Virus’ Wreaks Havoc on Kansas

Dec 23, 2014 04:36 PM EST

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While these little arachnids are not much to look at, ticks are the carriers of a myriad of diseases, which makes them of great importance to researchers. History has shown that they can cause sepsis, this past summer researchers discovered that the Lone Star tick can create a severe allergy to red meats, and now health officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that a new tick-borne virus can even cause multiple organ failure.

Late this past summer doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital received a unique case of multiple organ failure, after a patient from Fort Scott, Kansas revealed that he had been recently bitten by a tick. John Seested, the patient, did not respond to traditional therapies, and while researchers conducted an array of standard tick-borne illness tests, all reports came back negative for Seested's affliction.

After several days in the intensive care unit (ICU), Seested died from organ failure, that doctors with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now believe was indeed caused by a tick-borne virus.

"It was a very frustrating case" lead doctor for the University of Kansas Hospital's team, Dr. Dana Hawkinson says. "That's one of the biggest problems with my job, which I love-when we can't answer those questions; when we can't help the patients or their families."

While at the time the doctors could not confirm the role the tick played in Seested's death, they now know that the array of tests did not work because the strand of virus Seested had contracted was entirely new to man. Dubbing it the "Bourbon Virus", researchers with the CDC now believe that they have enough information to save other patients in the future, should this particular tick strike again.

"We continued to push and have concerns as to why this happened" Hawkinson says. "The CDC was on board with us, and was able to help with that, now [together] we've identified this new virus."

Symptoms to watch out for if you've recently been bitten by a tick include: high fever, strong headache, muscle aches and nausea, and health officials recommend that you see a doctor immediately after having an interaction with a potentially infectious tick.

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