Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Have you heard? There's a new bug in town

Well, new to us, that is. And it’s called Bourbon virus.

Bourbon virus is named after the first recognized case of the disease from Bourbon County, Kansas. The symptoms of Bourbon virus include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea

Scientists believe the virus lives inside some ticks and/or mosquitoes. You could catch the virus if an insect that is carrying the virus bites you. At this time, there is no vaccine or treatment for Bourbon virus. So how can you protect yourself from catching this new bug?

Ticks that carry diseases (like Lyme disease or Bourbon virus) can attach themselves to any part of your body. However, most of them are found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits and scalp.

Continue to do the things you would do to avoid catching other tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease.

  • Take a bath or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors from wooded, bushy areas and trails.
  • Check your entire body (a full body check) for ticks; remember the hard-to-see areas.
  • Do a full body check on children, especially their scalp and hair.
  • Don’t forget to examine your gear.
  • Ticks can hitchhike a ride on the fur of pets, so check them carefully as well.
  • Run clothes through a dryer on high heat.

Scientists also suspect  mosquitoes may carry the Bourbon virus. Here are some tips from APHA’s GetReady website on how to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

  • When possible, wear clothing that fully covers your arms, legs and feet. Wearing light-colored clothing is even better, as mosquitoes are attracted to dark and bright colors.
  • Avoid using scented fragrances or scented lotions that may attract mosquitoes.
  • Avoid outdoor activities during peak mosquito hours from dusk until dawn.
  • Install screens on the windows in your home, and repair screens with rips or tears.
  • Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, so regularly get rid of any standing water around your home, such as water that has collected in flower pots, trash cans, rain gutters or swimming pool covers.

There’s more on how you can protect yourself from mosquito-borne disease at APHA’s Get Ready website.

Practicing habits that protect yourself, family and animal companions from diseases that are carried by ticks and mosquitoes is always a good idea. And those habits will also help to protect you from Bourbon virus.

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