It’s a scary idea to consider, but even as our modern medical science makes huge advances, new types of bacteria and viruses that could cause us serious harm are always evolving. Like all life forms, these disease-causing agents change and adapt constantly.

Most of the time our understanding of health and science outpaces the development of new types of illnesses, and we can stop bacteria and viruses in their tracks. Sometimes, though, they get a leg up on us.

Just look at this unusual incident in Kansas. A farmer who’d recently been bitten by ticks went to the hospital with symptoms that doctors thought indicated Lyme Disease, but when they looked at his blood work, they were shocked to find a type of virus that had never ever been seen before.

In 2014, a farmer from Bourbon County, Kansas went to the hospital with a high fever, nausea, and a rash. He told doctors he had gotten several tick bites recently, so they assumed he had Lyme disease.


His blood-work, however, showed no trace of Lyme disease, although he did have another virus, presumably transmitted by the ticks, which appeared to be causing his symptoms.

tick-3Nestle / Flickr

Further research revealed that this was an entirely new kind of infection that was distinct from anything else humans have ever contracted. His doctors named it the “Bourbon virus” after the area he was from.

tick-2Center for Disease Control / Wikimedia Commons

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