New Midwestern Tick Disease

January 2, 2015

Farmer in Wheat FieldThe Midwest seems to be developing new Tick borne illnesses. The latest has been dubbed “Bourbon virus“, for Bourbon county, Kansas.

The East coast is best known for tick borne disease, with Lyme Disease warnings making headlines every spring. But tick borne illness is far more widespread than that, cases are just more far between elsewhere (or are they undiagnosed?).

Bourbon disease has the attention of the CDC and researchers because there’s already been a death, but if that hadn’t been the case, it could still be flying under the radar (efforts to find a diagnosis ramped up after the death). Symptoms include fever and malaise, but what makes it special is it also removes the desire to eat.

Lyme disease patients also often suffer with getting a diagnosis—unless they are in an area heavily populated with ticks and Lyme disease cases. They also have trouble getting targeted treatment for the lasting damage that Lyme disease can cause (inflammation can damage joints and organs), because “chronic Lyme disease” (whether it’s actually chronic, lasting effects, or a new infection) is dismissed by many doctors.

It’s important to watch for tick bites. Mostly, because you need to be able to tip off your doctor that you’re at risk for tick borne disease, but also because it’s a clue to watch for what might (initially) be mild symptoms. Early treatment is important. While Lyme disease is bacterial and can be treated with antibiotics, the new Bourbon disease is viral. Since it’s new, there’s no precise treatment, but given that it causes anorexia, it needs monitoring by a health professional.

Ticks can jump from animals—so don’t pet wildlife, or encourage them (deer especially) to hang out in your yard. More of a concern for farmers, is tall grass, which can also harbor ticks. Tuck pants into boots or socks, and check pants/clothing for ticks, too.

Pets need tick checks too! Their warm bodies can attract them just like humans, and then bring them indoors to other family members.

And don’t forget to support your immune system!

Spread the word! The midwest isn’t accustomed to ticks and tickborne illnesses like the east coast.

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