Victim’s daughter urges caution against West Nile

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, December 2, 2003

The family of a Bogue Chitto woman who died of complicationsresulting from a West Nile virus infection urges residents tocontinue to take precautions against mosquitoes to avoidexperiencing a similar situation.

“You never think about it because you haven’t seen what it cando. Once you’ve seen it, you can’t forget it,” said Janice Reid ofBogue Chitto.

Reid’s mother, Lottie Mae Baker Davis, 76, died Nov. 28 atSouthwest Regional Medical Center from complications resulting fromWest Nile Encephalitis.

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According to Reid, the West Nile infection caused her mother tohave a stroke. Between the symptoms of the virus and the damage ofthe stroke, Davis lost control of many of her bodily functions.

“She was a captive of her own body,” Reid said. “She recognizedyou, but couldn’t communicate with you well.”

Davis fought a lengthy battle against the virus as it continuedto throw complications at her. At various times she fought off avariety of ailments, including respiration problems and pneumonia,before finally succumbing to a massive brain stem stroke.

Dr. Mary Currier, an epidemiologist at the MississippiDepartment of Health (MSDH), said Monday she was unaware of anyLincoln County West Nile cases. That is not unusual because theyonly loosely track human cases that don’t result in a short-termdeath, she said.

Reid said she believed MSDH was not aware of her mother’s casebecause of unusual circumstances. Her mother was treated for theinitial symptoms at SWRMC. When officials began to suspect WestNile, she was transferred to Mercy Hospital in New Orleans, wherethe diagnosis was confirmed.

“I believe she fell under Louisiana statistics somehow,” Reidsaid. “We didn’t worry about the statistics, because we had otherthings happening.”

Reid urged area residents to continue to take precautionsagainst mosquitoes, because she is sure Davis was infected aroundher home.

“She was always a very active person. At that time she was doinga lot outdoors and hadn’t been out of the Bogue Chitto-Brookhavenarea,” Reid said.”We’re steadily checking birdbaths and loose cansfor standing water. It’s changed our whole world. We’re certainlytaking precautions.”

The mosquito season is winding down, Currier said, but Decemberinfections are not unknown. Two new cases of West Nile in humanswas confirmed Nov. 26 in Pearl River and Forrest Counties, and acase was confirmed in December last year.

Reid said she has seen many people become complacent as themosquito season draws to a close, and it concerns her.

“West Nile is here to stay now. We’ll see it every year,” shesaid. “I wish there was some way to shake people and tell themeverything you’ve been through so they would understand (thedangers), but you can’t.”

According to Currier, Mississippi has recorded two other deathsattributed to West Nile this year, from cases in Pearl River andLauderdale Counties, and has 81 confirmed human cases.

Last year, West Nile was blamed in 12 deaths.