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Mother Dies After Contracting Incurable Virus From A Tick

Today / Prevention

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 16 tick-borne viruses that can cause human diseases.

Hearing that number makes you want to stay cooped up in your home until winter comes around.

Even people who are well aware on how to protect themselves from ticks are getting bitten.

One of these people was Tamela Wilson.

Wilson worked as the assistant superintendent of Meramec State Park in Missouri for a decade, so she knew a thing or two about how to stay safe in the wilderness.

On Mother's Day, she and her daughter went camping, an activity they've done many times over the years.

The 58-year-old asked her daughter to inspect her for ticks, just in case. To their surprise, there was two lodged in her skin.

She got them removed and didn't think of them again, until a few days later when she fell ill.

Wilson, who also had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, went to see her doctor and complained of pain.

Her doctor diagnosed her with a urinary tract infection. She took her antibiotic medication, but didn't feel any better.

Her doctor checked her blood work, and noticed that her white blood cell count was very low, which likely meant that she was fighting some sort of virus.

“She told the doctors she had a tick bite,” Wilson's daughter, Amie May, said. “She looked like she had a flu. She didn’t look herself, but she was fine otherwise.”

Her symptoms started to get progressively worse...

Wilson's body was covered in rashes. Doctors thought she may have contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, another rare tick-borne virus, but her test results came back negative.

Doctors were stumped!

They sent her blood work to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further testing.

The news was heartbreaking.

Wilson had contracted the Bourbon virus, becoming the fifth confirmed case since they first discovered the virus in 2014. The disease is said to be mostly located in the Midwest and Southern U.S.

The family was told that there's no treatment or vaccine to treat the mother.

“They were at a loss of what to do for her,” May recalled. “It was very frustrating. To see her every day and she would just be a little worse than the last time.”

Late June, Wilson passed away, and her daughter hopes her mother's story raises more awareness about the dangers of tick bites.

According to Today, medical experts don't know much about the Bourbon virus.

“The Bourbon ... virus … ha[s] captured a lot of attention because there is not an antiviral treatment,” Dr. Steven Lawrence, a Washington University infectious disease specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, told the news channel.

What we do know is that symptoms of this virus include fatigue, fever, body aches, vomiting, a rash, and a headache.

It is a potentially serious infection and raised some concern. But not to the point that everyone should have a daily concern they are going to get the Bourbon virus,” Lawrence added.

5 tips on how to protect yourself from getting a tick bite

1. Use insect repellent that has at least 20% DEET.

2. Wear long, loosely-fitted clothing.

3. Avoid tick-infested areas. If you're not sure, ask locals or wildlife staff.

4. Try to stay in the sun.

5. Regularly check yourself for bites.

Have you ever gotten a tick bite before? Share Wilson's story to raise awareness!

[H/T: Today / Faithtap / Daily Mail]

For more info how to keep ticks out of your yard this summer, click here.

If you have a bug bite and have no idea what it is, click here to learn how to recognize each one.

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at moojan@shared.com.