West Nile Victim Talks About Symptoms, Hopes for Cure
(Memphis) – Mosquito are nothing new to Jonnie Adams, just take a walk through her garden at her Collierville home.
“In this part of the country you get bit all the time,” Adams said.
A few weeks ago one did bite her, and she got sick.
“I started vomiting and I took my temperature and it was almost 102,” she said.
It sent her to the emergency room.
“I was seeing double. If I sat here and looked at you I would have seen two of you and that was scary,” she said.
Jonnie is one of 12 people who got the virus in Shelby County this year. Across the country, there have been more than 3,500 human West Nile cases reported, including 147 deaths.
Still, there’s no vaccine for humans.
“For treatment it’s all symptomatic,” University of Tennessee Health Science Center Professor Dr. Michael Whitt said. “We try to reduce the fever and provide hydration therapy.”
But for animals, it’s a different story.
“For animals and horses that are infected there is a vaccine, so essentially all the horses in this area are vaccinated,” he said.
The Centers for Disease control says when it comes to a human vaccine, ‘many scientists are working on this issue.’
We found that may not be the case.
Sanofi Pasteur, one of the largest vaccine companies in the world was testing a vaccine but put it on the back burner because of limited resources.
Biotech company Crucell made progress five years ago. Their website, though, says it discontinued the program because” the commercial and market opportunities for its West Nile products are not as attractive as other products.”
Dr. Whitt says the vaccine may not be a major concern because about half the people who get the virus, it goes unnoticed.
“Typically most people don`t show symptoms. Forty to 60 percent of people who get bitten by an infected mosquito show no symptoms at all.”
Twenty percent will get West Nile fever, but for 1 percent the virus can be very severe.
“Which is what we call West Nile encephalitis or meningitis,” he said.0
Dr. Whitt says despite the higher case numbers this year, you shouldn’t fear the virus.
“You can`t and shouldn`t be scared of it,” he said.
A few weeks after being hospitalized with West Nile Jonnie Adams is taking that advice.
She still plays outside with her dog Mossie, whose name just happens to mean mosquito in Australia.,
Weeks later Adams still suffers from some symptoms.
“My eyes are still dry,” she said.
And she wants you to be aware of the potential risks that can come with just one mosquito bite.
“It is out there and it is not fun, ” she said. “It is very serious.”