Bourbon virus is an emerging tick borne RNA virus in the orthomyxoviridae family; an experimental antiviral drug that cures mice infected with the potentially lethal virus. The drug, favipiravir, is approving for treatment of influenza, a relating virus.
As bourbon virus was first identified in 2014; in a previously healthy middle aged man in Kansas; ehrlichiosis, a tick borne bacterial infection that causes similar symptoms and often affects people. This study reporting the isolation and the characterization of the second human isolate of BRBV (BRBV-STL) from a fatal case; and demonstrate that BRBV replication is inhibiting by the broad spectrum antiviral drug favipiravir.
Bourbon Virus In Mice
But the favipiravir has prophylactic and therapeutic activity against fatal BRBV disease; but these findings support the possible evaluation of the favipiravir as a therapeutic drug for future human Bourbon virus cases; by quickly narrowing the list of potential drugs down to one favipiravir that inhibits a key protein the virus needs to multiply.
But other available influenza drugs were unlikely to work because they target parts of the influenza virus that differ from Bourbon virus; infected mice with the virus, using a strain of mice with weakened immune systems since healthy mice were able to fight off the virus; All of the immunocompromised mice died six to eight days after they were injected with the virus; treating infected mice with the flu drug or a placebo for 8 days.
But by giving the antiviral to mice are at the same time or within one day of becoming infecting with the virus; all surviving without becoming visibly ill. In contrast, none of the infected mice that receiving a placebo survived; The genome of BRBV-STL is highly similar to that of the original isolate; BRBV-KS, with the exception of two regions that distinguish the viruses.
Since favipiravir is not approved by the FDA; it is not clear whether doctors in the U.S. would be able to obtain it for their patients. The best protection against Bourbon virus is to avoid tick bites by wearing insect repellent and long pants and sleeves, and doing regular tick checks after outdoor activity.