In a scene straight from any apocalypse movie, the Centers for Disease Control just announced the arrival of two new “superbugs” that people need to be aware of after several recent deaths. No need to run to your panic rooms yet — the Bourbon virus and the CRE bacteria aren’t widespread — but so far there is no treatment for either.
The Bourbon virus may sound like something from South Park but there is nothing funny about the deadly new germ, according to the CDC. A Kentucky man contracted the virus, named after the county of Kentucky he lived in, after getting several tick bites. He quickly came down with severe symptoms, including a fever, tiredness, rash, headache, other body aches, nausea and vomiting. After 11 days in the hospital, he died of a heart attack brought on by the bug. Blood tests and a post-mortem exam showed that the virus has not been seen before.
Most people are aware that you can get illnesses like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease from tick bites but this is a new type of illness, say the researchers. The Bourbon virus is part of a class of germs called thogotoviruses, previously only seen in Africa, Asia and Europe. Since this is the first and so far only known case of the Bourbon virus, the CDC is recommending people take typical precautions to avoid tick bites and to see a doctor immediately if they start to feel sick.
In addition to the Bourbon virus, the CDC also announced more deaths from a new antibiotic-resistant bacteria called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE. Similar to other antibiotic-resistant superbugs like the scarily famous MRSA, the bacteria moves very quickly and doesn’t respond to any known antibiotic treatments.
Officials announced three deaths from CRE and 18 new cases this year. In the past several weeks 15 people showed up at a North Carolina hospital already infected with the virus while the rest picked up the bacteria in the hospital. While it’s not yet known how the 15 patients contracted it, seven patients in Los Angeles last year became ill with CRE after having a routine endoscopy, a procedure where a tube is inserted down the throat to look for ulcers or growths in the esophagus and stomach. It’s thought the bacteria was spread via contaminated equipment even though the doctors say that proper disinfection procedures were followed. Two of the L.A. patients died from complications related to the infection.