By Mary Clarkin

The Hutchinson News

There is no known specific treatment, vaccine or drug for a disease linked to a newly named Bourbon virus, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

However, the virus is thought to be transmitted through tick or insect bites. The risk to the public during winter is minimal, the KDHE press release said.

A man who lived in Bourbon County and died during the summer of 2014 was believed to have had a tick-borne disease because symptoms included fever and fatigue.

"However, specimens taken from the resident tested negative for known tick-borne diseases," the release said. "It is not known if Bourbon virus was the cause of death or how much it contributed to the resident's death."

This is the first and only confirmed case of Bourbon virus in the country, according to Aimee Rosenow, public information officer for KDHE.

Bourbon County is on the Kansas-Missouri border in southeast Kansas. Fort Scott is the county's largest city. Rosenow said the department would not release the victim's name or information about his age, out of privacy considerations for the family.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the KDHE and a clinical team are continuing to collaborate on research.

Other residents with similar symptoms who have tested negative for Heartland virus will be tested for this novel virus, according to the release.

The CDC "has developed blood tests that can be used to identify and confirm recent Bourbon virus infections," the release said. Investigators plan to collect and test ticks and other insects for the new virus.

To reduce the risk of tick- or insect-borne illnesses, people are advised to avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter, and to use insect repellent containing DEET when outdoors.

(c)2014 The Hutchinson News