Fifty-eight-year-old Tamela Wilson was at work in Missouri’s Meramec State Park in May, when she was bitten by something quite common. She never thought it would lead to her untimely demise, but now, her family is warning others after her death.
Wilson, an assistant park superintendent, noticed two ticks lodged in her body one day at work, which is not entirely unusual when you consider where she was employed. The mother-of-one simply removed the bugs from her skin and went about her day, but within days, she became lethargic with fever and nausea.
At first, doctors seemed to be confused by Wilson’s symptoms, diagnosing her with a urinary tract infection and sending her home with antibiotics. However, when her condition worsened substantially a week later and she was admitted to the hospital, blood tests revealed that she had contracted Bourbon virus, a rare and untreatable condition that first emerged in 2014.
Bourbon virus has only been seen in five Americans to date, all in the Midwest and Southern parts of the US.
The first US case involved a 68-year-old man in Kansas, John Seested, who died two weeks after being bitten by a tick.
Before his diagnosis, there had only been eight incidents worldwide – all in Europe, Asia or Africa.
The virus is a type of thogotovirus, but it acts very differently.
Usually, thogotoviruses lead to meningitis, which inflames the lining of the brain. However, Bourbon virus attacks and destroys white blood cells at an alarming rate.
There is no treatment or vaccine. [Source: Daily Mail]
Wilson went on to spend weeks in intensive care, as doctors tried their best to get a handle on the disease which had overtaken her body. But, she would also develop pneumonia and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a condition which makes immune cells mutate. Ultimately, it all proved too much, and Wilson passed away on June 23.Wilson’s parents are now speaking out because doctors initially did not know to test for Bourbon virus since it was only identified a few years ago and not very many cases have been reported. However, had Wilson’s case been correctly diagnosed sooner, perhaps her life could have been saved.
Wilson was the first person in Missouri to test positive for the tick-borne illness. The 58-year-old is the fifth confirmed case of the deadly disease since it was discovered in 2014. [Source: FOX 6]
“You wouldn’t want this for your worst enemy,” said Wilson’s stepmother, Kathy Potter. “It makes you fearful of going outside. It’s not something that any doctor will look for. You have to present it to them and by the time you find out it might be too late.”
“The doctors were beside themselves. They said it’s a medical mystery,” added Wilson’s father, Geoff. “Every day we’d go to the hospital and she’d get worse. No improvement.
Obscure cases like Tamela Wilson’s serve to remind us that life is short, and you truly never know when it may be cut short. It is important to live each day as though it may be your last and make sure the people who are most important to you know how much you love them.
Surely, Tamela Wilson’s family would give anything to see her and embrace her just one more time. Please pray for her child, who undoubtedly will be hit the hardest by the unforeseeable tragedy of losing their mother.

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