Man recovers from illness; new West Nile cases found

Published 5:00 am Friday, September 12, 2003

MONTICELLO — A New Hebron man and two horses in Lawrence Countyhave been positively identified with the West Nile virus, accordingto state health officials.

The New Hebron man, who preferred to remain anonymous, said heis being reported as a case out of Forrest County because he wasfirst diagnosed with the virus at Forrest General Hospital.

He was first diagnosed a few weeks ago, he said.

“When I went in, I thought I had the flu,” he said. “The onlything you can do (with West Nile) is treat the symptoms.”

He said that for more than a week he ran a very high fever, hadbody aches, and experienced other flu-like symptoms.

“I don’t get sick often, so when I do it’s a doozy,” he said. “Iwas as sick then as I’ve ever been, but I’m fine now.”

He has recovered well, he said, and now shows no sign of thevirus or its symptoms.

“I guess it affects different people different ways,” he said.”The doctors said it probably won’t affect me any more. They sayI’ve built up an immunity to it now.”

In fact, he did not even know he had West Nile until after hehad recovered, he said. When he went to the hospital, he wastreated for the flu but medical personnel took blood samples totest for the virus. He had already recovered from the illness whenthe hospital called a week later with the positive results for WestNile.

The man, 48, said he did take some preventive steps againstmosquitoes, but admitted he could have done more.

“We live in Southwest Mississippi. We can’t help but get bit bymosquitoes,” he said.

In a more recent development, the state Department of Healthannounced late Tuesday that two Lawrence County horses have alsotested positive for West Nile.

Dr. Mark Herbert, a veterinarian with the Lawrence County AnimalMedical Clinic, said he reported one of the horses after beingcalled to see it. The horse was in the Silver Creek-Arm area.

He said he did not have any information on a second horseconfirmed with the virus in the county.

Herbert said the county had more than 20 horses identified withthe virus last year and “almost all of them made it.”

He has seen “a lot less” cases of West Nile this year, he said.He attributed the decline to increased vaccinations. Herbert hasvaccinated “hundreds” of horses against the virus this year.

“West Nile is easily prevented in horses,” Herbert said. “All ittakes is a series of two inexpensive shots.”

The veterinarian said he had a lot of vaccine available and feltconfident other veterinarians did also.