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West Nile Virus on Pace to Be Worst in Mississippi History

By Daniel Cherry | Published 24 Aug 2012 06:19pm | comments
The West Nile epidemic is on pace to be the worst ever recorded in the state. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how a Mississippi doctor says his studies show the effects of West Nile Virus infections could be more serious than thought.
 
The Mississippi Department of Health is reporting 90 cases of West Nile Virus so far this year, resulting in two deaths. Most cases go unnoticed in healthy individuals, but some like Crystal Walley of Waynesboro have a much stronger reaction.
 
"After about three days of being home I lost my vision. I couldn't see anything. I didn't know my mom's name. They admitted me to the hospital that day and after about three days of being in Wayne General, I woke up and was completely paralyzed in my right side."
 
Wally contracted the virus more than a year ago, and she says she regained the ability to walk only within the past couple months. Dr. Art Leis, with Methodist Hospital in Jackson, studies the disease. He says even those who have a mild reaction to the virus might be suffering serious neurological damage.
 
"We've never been able to explain why someone who just has the summer flu should have one year of disabling fatigue, why they should have sleep disruption, difficulty concentrating."
 
Experts say Mississippi is still in the first half of peak West Nile season. Dr. Van Craig of Natchez was diagnosed with the virus about two months ago. He's urging other residents to look out for mosquitoes. 
 
"I don't think the general public and probably most of the physicians in the Southeastern United States understand how serious this disease can be, and until it happened to me, I didn't understand how serious it was either."
 
The best way to cut down the risk of getting West Nile is to wear insect repellant and avoid going outdoors during peak hours between dusk and dawn.

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