A mother has passed away only a few weeks after small bug bites appeared on her skin.
58-year-old Tamela Wilson has died of a tick-borne illness. She was at work in Missouri when she noticed two ticks lodged on her skin.
The mother-of-one removed the insects and continued with her day as assistant park superintendent at Meramec State Park.
After a few days, she had a fever and became nauseous and lethargic. Doctors were confused and Wilson was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection.
But several days later, her condition worsened. On May 31, blood tests revealed Wilson had Bourbon virus – a rare and untreatable disease.
The mother spent weeks in the intensive care unit with doctors trying their best to stop or slow down the progression of the disease. But Wilson developed hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, which causes immune cells to mutate, and pneumonia.
Wilson passed away on June 23.
Her heartbroken family members describe the agonizing pain the mother-of-one suffered during her final weeks.
Her stepmother, Kathy Potter, said to Fox 6 News: “You wouldn’t want this for your worst enemy. It makes you fearful of going outside.”
Her father, Geoff, said: “The doctors were beside themselves. They said it’s a medical mystery.
“Every day we’d go to the hospital and she’d get worse. No improvement.”
Bourbon virus has only affected 5 people in the United States. The first case was a 68-year-old man in Kansas. He passed away weeks after a tick bit him.
The virus is a type of thogotovirus. Thogotoviruses usually result in meningitis but Bourbon virus attacks and destroys white blood cells rapidly. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine or treatment for the condition.
The CDC urges people to wear long pants and sleeves, apply insect repellents, avoid wooded and bushy areas, and check the body after spending time outdoors.
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