Two years after a state park man in Missouri died of complications of burbond scourge virus, researchers used the strain on the virus that she had received to find possible treatments and save lives of people with rare disease.
Assistant to the state park Meramec Tamela Wilson died in June 2017 after 24 days spent at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louise to treat the disease that began after she had bitten the infected cloth near her home outside Sullivan. Only five cases of Bourbon virus were diagnosed in the United States, and Wilson was the first in Missouri, according to Washington Missouri.
The virus was first discovered in 2014 when a man who lived in Bourbon County in Kansas dropped with flu-like symptoms and died after a tick bite.
Dr. Jacco Boon, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Washington, now collaborates with doctors in the Barnes-Jewish hospital who diagnosed and treated Wilson to test current and new forms of flu treatment as possible drugs for the Bourbon virus.
Since the disease is rare, researchers use the direct strain of Bourbon Virus from Wilson to create cultures and carry out testing.
"Without her (Wilson) case, I would not study burbonian virus," said Boon, a flu investigator. "Maybe there were other cases before (Wilson), but doctors would not know what it was, or send it to (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Bourbon virus is now easier to diagnose."
Boon said that the experimental antiviral drug favipiravir, which inhibits the key protein that the virus must multiply, showed a survival rate in laboratory mice. The drug is approved for the treatment of flu in Japan, but not in the US.
Since Wilson had health problems during his death, Boon used laboratory mice with a compromised immune system for tests. Healthy mice fought against the virus. All compromised mice receiving the Bourbon virus died six to eight days after the infection, while the mice given the cure for survival flu.
Boon said it could take several years before the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of an experimental drug.
"The first thing we do is look at similar drugs," Boon said. "Knowledge is also crucial, Burbonian virus is in circulation in the Midwest and beyond." We are trying to set up studies and share information on how many people might be exposed. "
Daughter of Tamele Wilson, Amy Daugherty, said she was thrilled with research that could save her future lives for her mother.
"I hate what went away, but knowing that her death may be the result of something so big, it's incredible," Daugherty said. "She was amazing in life and incredible in death, so I'm glad I shared her story after her death, and I knew that something wonderful would come from her."