Ala. West Nile Virus victim speaks out | News
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA)- The West Nile Virus is a serious health threat for Alabama. The number of cases is rising. It's spread by mosquitos and can be very serious. We're up to 12 cases statewide now, a number that has doubled in just a week. We talked with one of the victims. He shares with us how he got it and what it's like.
"I can't ever remember being sick," 73-year-old Montgomery resident Jim Parker said, but that all changed when he started feeling sick in mid-June.
"I couldn't imagine getting West Nile," Parker explained.
He says the Alabama Department of Public Health contacted him in July to tell him he had the virus after weeks of tests.
"[I felt] lethargic, disoriented. There was a period when I had trouble walking. My balance was off," the man admitted.
Parker thinks he contracted it while sitting on his patio. A mosquito bit him. "Very near our patio, we have two bird feeders and I just believe that is where is happened. I spend a lot of time out there..." he explained.
Dr. Jefferson Underwood, III couldn't figure out what was going on with his patient. "He was having confusion, stiff neck which was indicative of meningitis. He had a tremor, which was indicative of some neurological involvement as well," Dr. Underwood, revealed.
In addition to blood work, Dr. Underwood took fluid from parker's spinal cord to send to the state health lab. Parker was referred to an infectious disease doctor as his condition worsened.
"And so I checked into the emergency room ward of the hospital and they kept me for six days," Parker said.
Now weeks later, Parker says he's back in good health.
"[It took]Six to eight weeks before I felt like I was completely normal," Parker said.
Parker says now he makes sure he wears long sleeves and pants while sitting on his patio and he uses mosquito repellent daily. He says he's grateful to have survived.
The West Nile Virus can be deadly, mainly for people with weakened immune systems.
In fact, just Thursday, the state confirmed its first death related to virus. It was in Montgomery County, where most of the state's cases seem to be concentrated.
Copyright 2012 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.