Science Says, What's Happening

Bourbon Disease Could Be Worse Than a Bad Hangover


Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The Kentucky Derby is right around the corner—the first Saturday in May. I am gripped with fear. I won’t lose sleep over another losing Derby bet, but I’ve just read in the past few weeks that Bourbon disease could rear its ugly head.  I hope not, but who knows? This is not some virulent strain of cocktail flu.

Center for Disease Control photo

Center for Disease Control photo

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Bourbon virus is a novel RNA virus in the genus Thogotovirus (family Orthomyxoviridae) that was recently discovered in Bourbon County, Kansas.” There has been only one case reported, that of a previously healthy male over 50 years of age who had onset of symptoms during late spring 2014. The patient had reported exposure to ticks before becoming ill. He went to doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital last summer with symptoms consistent with most tick-borne illnesses, including high fever, severe headache, muscle aches and nausea.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Believe me, I’ve had my share of bad hangovers, but this could be worse.

I might have one Mint Julep over the Derby weekend, but it will be ceremonial. It’s not my Bourbon preference. (Churchill Downs expects to sell over 120,000 Mint Juleps over two days of racing during Derby weekend.) My Bourbon choice is Old Forrester on the rocks.

I am delighted, as a homegrown Kentuckian, with the surging popularity of Kentucky Bourbon. I hope many of you will visit distilleries along Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

No one knows where the Bourbon disease is going.  But no one wants another tick-borne disease. Lyme Disease is bad enough.

Ticks shouldn’t be a problem, unless you get off the trail.

The Bourbon virus has proven deadly—one time, so far.

The CDC advised: “As of February 12, 2015, only one case of Bourbon virus disease had been identified in eastern Kansas in late spring 2014. The man who was infected later died. At this time, we do not know if the virus might be found in other areas of the United States.”

It’s tick season.

Hang onto your Derby hats.

Posted by on April 9, 2015 at 7:57 am, in the category Science Says, What's Happening.
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4 responses to “Bourbon Disease Could Be Worse Than a Bad Hangover”

  1. Garden Rant Garden Rant says:

    Bourbon’s my drink, too – or was. Bet the manufacturers are none too happy about the name of that disease. Susan

  2. Joe Schmitt says:

    Don’t know how effective it’s been, but University of Wisconsin researchers are trying a novel way to control tick populations by employing field mice to gather and poison them. Sounds like a simple trick any of us could employ. Read about it here:

  3. Molly says:

    Here in the Carolinas, we skip the bourbon and go for the dessert version: if you make the mint julep with Mystic bourbon liqueur, you’re in for a treat — sweet and ginger-spicy. Or if that’s still too close to home, milkshake it, baby!

    We put up deer fencing about 7 years ago, and the tick population in our yard plummeted to near zero at this point. Only took a few years to see a huge difference…

  4. Dave says:

    After contracting Lyme disease and spending many grueling months finding out how to recover, I had to crack down on the tick population and the simplest way was simply to mow my lawn my regularly. It sounds very obvious but I found that even a couples of inches of growth had a big impact.