ST. LOUIS — Family of an eastern Missouri park worker who relatives say died of complications from the tick-borne Bourbon virus are warning the public about the illness.
Tamela Wilson, 58, worked at Meramec State Park, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2tMMMuZ ) reported. The park is located about 60 miles (96 kilometers) southwest of St. Louis, near the town of Sullivan.
After her death June 23, the state Department of Natural Resources collected ticks for testing and announced the park was “an area of interest” in an investigation of a Bourbon virus case. The state health department confirmed the same day that a resident had contracted Bourbon virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wilson had the virus after testing negative for other tick-borne diseases, a result of Wilson removing two ticks from her body just weeks before in May.
Wilson’s daughter, Amie May, said her mother had acquired secondary infections, including pneumonia. She also had been treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma since 2012.
May, said she wished the department would’ve issued a stronger warning about the virus.
“I want people to know it’s out there,” she said. “We have a virus that doesn’t have a cure, and that’s scary.”
Dr. Steven Lawrence, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University, said there isn’t enough information about the virus to determine a typical course of illness. He said the handful of people who have confirmed cases of the virus reported symptoms of fever, headache, body aches, rash and fatigue.
Lawrence said the virus doesn’t constitute a public health threat.
“We know it would have to be a situation where most cases are very mild because we don’t have a lot of people sick in the hospital,” he said.
A state health official said it’ll take several months to finish the investigation into tick-borne diseases at Meramec State Park.
The virus was first discovered in 2014 after a Bourbon County man in eastern Kansas contracted flu-like symptoms and later died after being bitten by ticks.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com