Woman first West Nile virus case in county

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, August 6, 2002

A Brookhaven woman is among 14 new human cases of West Nilevirus confirmed in the past few days.

Dianna Roberson, 53, of 111 Comstock Lane, was confirmed withWNV on Thursday. She returned home Monday from St. Dominic’sHospital in Jackson.

The 14 new cases bring the total of confirmed or probable humanWNV cases in Mississippi this year to 22, according to State HealthOfficer Dr. Ed Thompson.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The confirmed human cases come from 11 counties: Lincoln,Forrest, Hancock, Hinds, Jackson, Pearl River, Pike, Rankin, Scott,Tallahatchie and Yazoo. Hinds has the most cases with 10. Pike andRankin counties each have two.

Dianna Roberson will recover from her exposure, said MandiRoberson, her daughter, but it will take time.

“The doctor said he would not be surprised if it didn’t take herthree months to feel like she’s fully recovered,” Mandi said. “Thebad news is it has to run its course. They can’t cure it.”

Mandi said her mother said she can best describe the symptoms asa severe case of the flu combined with mononucleosis.

Mandi said her mother noticed a rash July 21 that worsened andspread on July 22. When she also got a high fever July 23, she wentto the emergency room at King’s Daughters Medical Center.

“They told her it was a viral infection,” Mandi said, andtreated and released her.

When her condition had not improved by July 27, Mandi said, sheconsulted with Dr. F. Lee Neal Jr. He gave her some pain medicationto treat a severe headache she had gained along the way. By July29, she had returned for stronger pain medication.

Neal also sent her to the St. Dominic’s emergency room.

“They ran some blood tests, but nothing showed up,” Mandisaid.

By this time, Mandi said, her mother was displaying all of thesymptoms associated with WNV.

Most WNV infections are without symptoms, but those that dodisplay symptoms often complain of fever, headache and body aches,skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Severe cases may also be markedby neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors,convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis, according to the statehealth department.

The most serious cases of WNV is fatal encephalitis(inflammation of the brain) in humans and horses, as well as deathin certain domestic and wild birds. This occurs in less than onepercent of all persons infected with the virus, Thompson said.

Dianna Robertson was diagnosed with WNV on Aug. 1 after beinggiven a spinal tap. A spinal tap is the only way to accurately testfor WNV in humans, Mandi said.

“The scary part is not knowing what it was,” she said. “Once itwas pinpointed, we felt better.”

Mrs. Robertson was hospitalized from Aug. 1 to Monday and wasfed through intravenous injections because “the smell of food makesher real nauseated,” Mandi said.

Doctors told her it would be two weeks before she should evenconsider returning to work, Mandi said.

“Fortunately, I think we caught it in time,” Mandi said, “butshe said she’s never been in so much pain.”

Despite her experience, Mandi said, her mother is urging othersnot to fear and to continue with their normal routines after takingprecautions.

“She wants everyone to know it’s here and to use protection whengoing outside, but not to let the fear control your life,” Mandisaid. “Mom wouldn’t say not to go outside.”

WNV is contracted when a person or horse is bitten by aninfected mosquito.

Dianna Robertson is the only confirmed human case of WNVinfection in Lincoln County, and there have been no confirmed casesof animals infected by WNV in the county.