Missouri woman dies from tick-borne Bourbon virus

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MISSOURI— A 58-year old Missouri woman died last month after contracting a deadly, tick-borne virus known as the Bourbon virus.

Tamela Wilson’s parents, Kathy and Geoff Potter, said the doctors didn’t initially know to test for the disease because the virus was only identified a few years ago.

Wilson is the first person in Missouri to test positive for the Bourbon virus and is the fifth confirmed case of the deadly disease since its discovery in 2014.

Wilson lived and worked at Meramac State Park in Sullivan. Her family said the doctors were dumbfounded and that on her initial visit, she was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and given antibiotics.

“Everyday we’d go to the hospital and she’d get worse, no improvement,” Geoff Potter, Wilson’s father, said.

Wilson was eventually transferred to Barnes but they didn’t what to do either.

Dr. Morey Gardner, director of the Infectious Diseases Center at St. Mary’s Hospital, said there is no specific therapy for the virus.

He recommends wearing bug repellent and regularly checking for ticks as a precaution.

“It’s not something that any doctor will look for. You have to present it to them and by the time you find out it might be too late,” Kathy Potter, Wilson’s stepmother, said.

Wilson’s body was donated to science with the hopes of helping doctors make progress in fighting the Bourbon virus.