A Kansas man’s death last year can be traced to a new virus that is likely spread through bites from ticks, CNN reported on Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said in a statement on Friday that the 50-year-old man was in good health when he fell ill after working on his property. The agency named the illness the “Bourbon virus” after the county where he lived. He is believed to be the only person in the U.S. who has contracted the virus thus far.
The victim was reportedly bitten by several ticks before being diagnosed but was in good health otherwise. CBS News reported that he was hospitalized two days after becoming ill, at which point he was suffering from a rash on his chest along with elevated heart pressure.
“Scientists are still learning about possible symptoms caused by this new virus,” the statement read. “In the one person who was diagnosed with Bourbon virus disease, symptoms included fever, tiredness, rash, headache, other body aches, nausea, and vomiting. The person also had low blood counts for cells that fight infection and help prevent bleeding.”
According to the CDC, the victim was hospitalized two days after becoming ill, and tested negative for other infectious diseases, including Q fever and tularemia. He died of a heart attack eight days after being hospitalized.
Researchers said the man “found an engorged tick” on his shoulder just before getting sick. A microbiologist for the agency, Olga Kosoy, told NBC News that the disease was linked to the genus Thogotovirus, which has been linked to ticks in southern Europe and Africa.
“We are surprised. We really don’t know much about this virus,” said Charles Hunt, director of the state bureau of epidemiology and public health informatics. “It’s important to find out more from a public health perspective. It is possible that other persons have been infected with this and not known it?”