Monday, December 15, 2008

Lauren Ashley Miller-CA

Teenage girl in Menifee dies after four-year battle with West Nile illness

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10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Press-Enterprise

A 17-year-old Menifee girl stricken with West Nile Encephalitis died Wednesday, more than four years after she fell ill.

Lauren Ashley Miller contracted West Nile virus in 2004, at age 13, after mosquito bites showed up on her legs. She later developed encephalitis and her brain swelled, leaving her in a mostly vegetative state.

"She was great. Bubbly, lots of energy," recalled Pam Dennison, Lauren's elementary school teacher. "To think that she was a healthy, happy teenager and by the next weekend, she was bedridden ... It happened so quickly."

2007 / The Press-Enterprise
Lauren Ashley Miller, of Menifee, shown with her mother, Bonnie Miller, contracted West Nile virus at age 13 and later developed encephalitis, which led to her death Wednesday.

Dennison noted that of the people who get West Nile, only 1 in 100 develops encephalitis.

"They fought a very valiant fight," said Betti Cadmus, spokeswoman for the Menifee Union School District.

Dennison visited Lauren and her family, and helped organize fundraisers for the family to take her to China for treatments.

The Millers took Lauren to China when she was 15 for umbilical cord blood stem-cell injections. After the treatments, Lauren's mother, Bonnie Miller, wrote that Lauren's ability to swallow had improved, allowing her to eat pureed foods, according to her online journal.

"They are people with great faith," Dennison said of Lauren's parents. "Her parents have done everything."

In 2006 and 2007, the family took Lauren to Kansas City, Mo., for hyperbaric treatments.

Dennison said she saw Lauren in the hospital the day after Thanksgiving.

"They were at the turning point then," she said.

The family learned Lauren was having problems with her kidneys and decided to bring her home, Dennison said.

"There are people who questioned if Lauren knew what was going on around her," Dennison said. "She wasn't able to respond, but there were lots of signs that she knew what was going on."

Lauren flashed a unique smile to a cute doctor in China and locked eyes with her grandfather when he sat next to her, she said.

"I think she knew."

Dennison said she talked to Bonnie Miller on Wednesday and offered to help in any way she could.

Miller didn't ask for anything, Dennison said.

"They certainly need everyone's prayers."

Reach Tammy J. McCoy at 951-375-3729 or

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Richard Gibson, CA survivor

West Nile virus victim feels the bite Published: July 01, 2008 1:00 PM

“I’m your one per cent,” says a man I’ve yet to formally meet.
Richard Gibson wheels his way through The Valley Echo and into the reporter’s office.
He’s speaking about a recent article we’ve published on the precautions a person should take to avoid the West Nile bite.

The Saskatchewan man has a firsthand account of the severity the disease can inflict.
On August 16, 2007 Gibson began to experience a barrage of sickness, which he was told was a sinus infection.
Suffering chronic headaches, extreme exhaustion, eye irritation and chills, he went to a local walk-in clinic, his diagnosis was echoed Monday morning by his family doctor.

But a few days later his illness had intensified so severely that the now delirious Gibson spent 11 days in intensive care. He had been admitted to Yorkton Hospital August 22.

After extensive blood work and a spinal tap, doctors were able to diagnose him with the West Nile virus. But with no means to cure the disease, time and an abundance of antibiotics were hoped to aid Gibson.

As cases are still relativity rare in Canada, medical personnel had little assurances to offer his family. They simply didn’t know what the outcome would be.
As a result of the virus Gibson had meningitis and paralysis, leaving Gibson without the use of his legs and arms.
After one month in hospital he was transferred to Regina’s Wascana Rehabilitation Centre where he spent five months regaining his ability to walk and make use of his arms.

When he managed to finally get home it was December. By then Gibson had lost his job as a minister. He and his wife had to move from the church’s manse.
Today Gibson is mobile with the aid of a walker. He’s regained most of his ability in his right arm; his left is still paralyzed from the elbow up. He continues to go to rehabilitation everyday.

“I’m far beyond what anyone thought possible, but I’m nowhere near where I was.”
Recently Gibson and his wife Kathleen organized a forum for other West Nile survivors.
At the Saskatchewan gathering the couple met many victims of the virus. All of them had endured different degrees of the illness.
Some in attendance had experienced moderate mild flu-like symptoms, others represented loved ones who had died from the virus.

Gibson says he has yet to encounter any two people who have had identical symptoms.
Trying to make sense of the disease, Kathleen is in the midst of writing a book on their personal ordeal. The Gibsons hope to bring to light just how detrimental West Nile can be and encouraged others to take precautionary measures against insect bites.

“Most people don’t recognize how serious it can be. Something that happened to me might happen to someone else.”
While West Nile virus has yet to be detected in B.C., scientists are waiting for the first case to be found. “There is no cure, only prevention."

Melissa Dimond, UT Survivor

Victim struggles with West Nile effects
Bountiful woman still battles virus' aftereffects
By Heather May The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 07/24/2008 12:37:07 AM MDT

BOUNTIFUL - As she stood outside her new home with her new husband two years ago, Melissa Dimond was bit by a mosquito. She remembers thinking, "I hope I don't get West Nile [virus]." Two weeks later came the telltale signs. She developed a rash and severe headaches. She lost some vision in her left eye.
The type 1 diabetic grew spacey, twice throwing away the device that checks her blood-sugar levels. Eventually, after a couple of emergency room visits because she couldn't keep food or water down, close one of her eyes or remember how to put contact lenses in or use her insulin pump, tests confirmed she had the virus and one of its most serious repercussions. The virus had developed into meningoencephalitis - it had inflamed her brain and the membranes of the spinal cord. Most people infected with West Nile don't develop symptoms.
Dimond and her husband, Blake, spoke to reporters Wednesday about her ordeal as a cautionary tale about the importance of protection during mosquito season. To make the point of how easy the virus is to contract, Dimond noted she knew something about the disease as an epidemiologist at the state health department. "This type of illness is really rare. That needs to stay in perspective," she said from her living room couch. But, she added, "it's really not worth the risk, even if it is small."
Common in Africa, West Asia and the Middle East, the virus spread to the United States in 1999 and to Utah in 2003. It's typically spread through mosquitos, which become infected after feeding on infected birds. Last year, the state reported 70 human cases that resulted in two deaths. So far this year, the virus has infected two people, one in Uintah County and another reported in Salt Lake County this week. Both reported fevers. The virus has also been detected in either pools, mosquitos or birds in Box Elder, Davis, Kane, Millard, Utah and Washington counties.
The state health department says the virus has surely spread throughout the state. Dimond guesses she was outside at dusk for about 20 minutes when she got bit in September 2006. She thinks she was so severely affected because her immune system was compromised by diabetes and a sinus infection she had at the time. She spent about a month in the hospital. She couldn't swallow, smile or stick out her tongue. She couldn't walk or raise her arms and she had double vision. Doctors didn't know if she suffered brain damage. "It was devastating," Blake Dimond recalled. "To see your wife without any facial expression, sick, relying on machines to feed her. . . . I just wanted to know: Is it going to be my same Melissa that I married?"
It took six months of relearning skills as basic as coughing and spitting to get to where she is today. She still tires easily and has trouble walking because the toes of her left foot curl in. But she is back to work and can take care of herself again. Her vocal range has limits, but she has rejoined her church choir. Her goal is to be able to mountain bike again. The couple are more cautious than ever about warding off mosquitos. Citronella candles are on the porch. She steers clear of most evening barbecues. "I'm really proud to have her back," Blake Dimond said. "I had no idea she could get that sick."

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Stacie King, MS

Pontotoc mother wins battle with WEST NILE VIRUS

Align LeftStacie and Savannah

(Stacie King spraying her 5-year-old daughter Savannah.)

Special to the Progress

It�s hard to believe that a tiny insect could cause a grown woman so much trouble, but for Stacie King just one pesky little mosquito almost cost her her life.
It all began early on a September morning when Stacie woke up with the worst headache and backache she had ever experienced. �I wasn�t able to go to church that day,� she says as she remembers the unexpected turn of events last fall. Her symptoms soon included dizziness, nausea, and weakness. �Everyday I just got worse,� she recalls with a faraway look in her eyes.
When her unusual symptoms didn�t improve she finally decided it was time to see a doctor. Stacie�s husband Derrick says, �Now, if I start to get a sniffle I run to the doctor, but Stacie never goes.� He knew his wife was really sick�and worried.
She made an appointment with Dr. Joseph Montgomery. Because Stacie�s symptoms were uncommon, and the routine tests in the office didn�t give any real clues to help in making a diagnosis, Dr. Joseph consulted with his older brother Dr. Steve Montgomery. Dr. Steve was puzzled as well by the mysterious symptoms that by now included a high fever. Trying to get to the root cause of the strange illness they decided to order a CT scan, as well as blood tests for a long list of diseases�a lot of which were fatal. �It�s a scary feeling when the doctor puts you in the hospital and doesn�t know what is wrong with you,� Stacie vividly remembers.
After the CT scan came back normal a spinal tap was ordered to check for meningitis, an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord. This test came back positive. One piece of the puzzling illness had fallen into place, but Dr. Steve, who was the one on call that weekend, didn�t think that was the whole puzzle. Stacie explains, �He was anxious to see what the blood work that had been sent off to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota showed.�

Puzzle solved
After the results from the Mayo Clinic came in, the puzzle of the mysterious illness was finally solved. Derrick remembers how scared he and Stacie were when they first heard the diagnosis. �When he (Dr. Steve) walked into the room and said �Well, I know now what you�ve had�, we just held our breath. When he said it was West Nile Meningitis I thought that was a death sentence, but he said �But you�re going to be fine�.�
Dr. Steve explained that the disease is extremely rare and that it would take quite some time for Stacie to fully recover. In all his years of practicing medicine, this was his first patient with West Nile Virus. �He said he was just as shocked as we were,� Stacie recalls. Her case was the first and only instance of West Nile Virus reported in Pontotoc County in 2007.
As a mother of five, Stacie can�t imagine a child going through an ordeal like hers. �I think parents should be real cautious and should be real aware. You think it would never happen to you.�
The King family is thankful that Stacie is on the road to recovery. Although she still tires easily she is doing well. Stacie and Derrick are especially thankful for family and friends who helped them through those difficult weeks while she was in the hospital and recuperating afterwards. �If it had not been for family and friends we would have been in a tight�a real tight,� Derrick says gratefully. Stacie adds with a smile, �The good Lord works it all out. He always has for us.�

Appeared originally in the Pontotoc Progress, 7/1/2008, section C , page 1

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Rev. Richard Gibson-CAN

West Nile virus victim feels the bite

By Janine Toms - Invermere Valley Echo - July 01, 2008
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Rev. Richard Gibson and his wife Kathleen pay a visit to the valley this summer. Richard is a West Nile survivor who experienced a serious reaction to the virus last summer in Saskatchewan. Janine Toms/Echo photo

“I’m your one per cent,” says a man I’ve yet to formally meet.

Richard Gibson wheels his way through The Valley Echo and into the reporter’s office.

He’s speaking about a recent article we’ve published on the precautions a person should take to avoid the West Nile bite.

The Saskatchewan man has a firsthand account of the severity the disease can inflict.

On August 16, 2007 Gibson began to experience a barrage of sickness, which he was told was a sinus infection.

Suffering chronic headaches, extreme exhaustion, eye irritation and chills, he went to a local walk-in clinic, his diagnosis was echoed Monday morning by his family doctor.

But a few days later his illness had intensified so severely that the now delirious Gibson spent 11 days in intensive care. He had been admitted to Yorkton Hospital August 22.

After extensive blood work and a spinal tap, doctors were able to diagnose him with the West Nile virus. But with no means to cure the disease, time and an abundance of antibiotics were hoped to aid Gibson.

As cases are still relativity rare in Canada, medical personnel had little assurances to offer his family. They simply didn’t know what the outcome would be.

As a result of the virus Gibson had meningitis and paralysis, leaving Gibson without the use of his legs and arms.

After one month in hospital he was transferred to Regina’s Wascana Rehabilitation Centre where he spent five months regaining his ability to walk and make use of his arms.

When he managed to finally get home it was December. By then Gibson had lost his job as a minister. He and his wife had to move from the church’s manse.

Today Gibson is mobile with the aid of a walker. He’s regained most of his ability in his right arm; his left is still paralyzed from the elbow up. He continues to go to rehabilitation everyday.

“I’m far beyond what anyone thought possible, but I’m nowhere near where I was.”

Recently Gibson and his wife Kathleen organized a forum for other West Nile survivors.

At the Saskatchewan gathering the couple met many victims of the virus. All of them had endured different degrees of the illness.

Some in attendance had experienced moderate mild flu-like symptoms, others represented loved ones who had died from the virus.

Gibson says he has yet to encounter any two people who have had identical symptoms.

Trying to make sense of the disease, Kathleen is in the midst of writing a book on their personal ordeal. The Gibsons hope to bring to light just how detrimental West Nile can be and encouraged others to take precautionary measures against insect bites.

“Most people don’t recognize how serious it can be. Something that happened to me might happen to someone else.”

While West Nile virus has yet to be detected in B.C., scientists are waiting for the first case to be found. “There is no cure, only prevention."

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mel Lacy, ID

Man paralyzed by West Nile shares harrowing tale
05/02/2008 11:39 AM MDT

Mel Lacy on his long road to recovery
BOISE - Summertime will soon be here and so will those blood-sucking mosquitoes. Since West Nile virus first appeared in Idaho – thousands of people have been infected.

One of those people – Mel Lacy, shared his struggle with the potentially debilitating virus.

Doctors diagnosed Lacy with West Nile on his wedding anniversary in August of 2006.
Later that month he was admitted to the hospital because he couldn't stop throwing up.

Two months later he woke up paralyzed from the neck down.
“It feels weird I feel like I am falling forward,” Lacy said.
Lacy fights everyday to overcome the affects of West Nile - working to gain muscle in his arms and legs.
“When he first came in he had the tracheotomy he was in a wheel chair pretty much totally dependant for all his mobility,” said physical therapist Jill Harris, St. Luke’s Idaho Elks Rehabilitation Services.

Lacy hasn't been able to walk on his own since 2006.
That summer this 51-year-old handyman, who loved to build cabinets, fell asleep one night and woke up with a mosquito bite and West Nile.
A couple months after his diagnosis, Lacy realized how serious the virus could be.
Idaho West Nile cases
  • 2003: First human case
  • 2004: Three cases
  • 2005: 13 cases
  • 2006: 1,000+ cases
  • 2007: 132 cases
  • 24 Idahoans have died from West Nile virus

“I couldn't move anything but my head,” he said.
It was a period of time that changed Lacy’s life and his family's forever.
“He was real ‘do it all and do it yourself’ and always did everything for us and to have to do everything for him is odd,” Lacy’s daughter Melissa Olson said.
Through therapy, Lacy has regained some of his independence and now has more mobility on the top half of his body.

He is breathing on his own and using his hands to accomplish everyday tasks.
“I have no lift to my arms this way so if I need to eat I have to pivot this arm to get my arm up or to shave,” Lacy said.

For Lacy, the fight after the bite is one of the toughest battles of his life.
“I had cancer at age 34 that they said I wouldn't live through (it), and I thought I had done my hard part in life and I passed those odds and then when I got this I thought well, there's really a challenge,” he said.

It is a struggle physically and emotionally.
“They do have antidepressants that help,” he said. “But I really believe its my faith that gets me by where I am.”

Lacy hopes by telling his story he can save others from getting the West Nile virus. His daughter says her dad’s experience has changed her habits.
“I make sure I douse with DEET and wear long sleeves,” Olson said. “It’s worth it because I don't want to end up in a chair like my dad.”

A chair Lacy is working to get out of.
“He gives 100 percent he does what he can to get better and I know someday he will meet his goals because he is determined,” Harris said.
“The dream is still there,” Lacy said. “Now I am just concentrating on trying to get better.”

Lacy says insurance companies estimate his health care costs have exceeded $750,000 and that does not include his prescriptions.

Because of West Nile, Lacy has been dropped by all insurance companies so now he has to cover the costs on his own.

He hopes to be eligible for Medicare later this year so he can afford to get back to physical therapy on a routine basis.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ray Stevens-CAN

West Nile ordeal kills city senior

Michelle Lang
Calgary Herald
Thursday, January 10, 2008

For almost five months, Ray Stevens fought for his life in the intensive care unit of Rockyview Hospital, paralyzed except for one arm.

The 76-year-old Calgarian, infected with a severe form of West Nile virus, slipped in and out of consciousness. He was on life support during much of his time in hospital.

Last week, Stevens lost his long battle with West Nile neurological syndrome, becoming the second person in Alberta to die from the mosquito-borne disease.

"Every day, you'd go up (to the hospital) and hope that something better would happen, but it didn't," said Arlene Stevens, his widow, on Wednesday.

"People have to realize how serious this is. They have to protect themselves," she added.

Stevens, a hockey enthusiast with a passion for his dogs, passed away Dec. 30 after becoming infected last summer, possibly during a visit to Saskatchewan.

His death comes four months after an elderly Calgary-area woman became the first person in Alberta to die from the virus in mid-September.

Like Stevens, health officials say the unidentified 74-year-old woman likely contracted West Nile in Saskatchewan.

Although both cases appear to have links to Saskatchewan, the deaths follow a record-setting year for West Nile in Alberta. The province recorded 321 cases of the virus in 2007, eclipsing the previous record in 2003 when there were about 275 cases.

"This unfortunate death underlies the importance of our message," said Howard May, spokesman for Alberta Health. "The single most effective way to reduce the risk is using DEET and personal protection."

Arlene was concerned about West Nile before her husband contracted it, and she even considered whether they should travel to Saskatchewan last summer. But the couple, who used DEET-based mosquito repellent, decided to go to Yorkton -- Stevens' hometown -- for their daughter's 50th birthday.

They left for Yorkton on July 31, returning to Calgary Aug. 9. Six days later, Stevens fell ill with flu-like symptoms. On Aug. 19, Stevens was rushed to hospital with "the worst headache possible," and within three days, he was admitted to intensive care, said his wife.

During his long hospital stay, his family had difficulty communicating with Stevens, who was hard of hearing. They often wrote him notes when they wanted to tell him something. Arlene said her husband had many visitors at the hospital, including his great grandkids and even his two dogs.

"The dogs seemed to know. They were perfect," she said.

Stevens didn't remember getting the mosquito bites that ultimately claimed his life. Arlene said it isn't clear if he was bitten in Saskatchewan or back in Calgary, but health officials suspect he contracted the virus during his trip.

In most cases, people who contract West Nile exhibit no symptoms and often learn they are carrying it after donating blood.

Those who do become ill may experience headaches, fever, chills and swollen lymph glands.

Serious cases can develop into the potentially-deadly West Nile Neurological Syndrome.

"Oftentimes, in West Nile Neurological Disorder, the risk increases with age and other health issues," said Bruce Conway, a spokesman at Calgary Health Region.

A memorial service for Stevens is planned for Saturday.

© The Calgary Herald 2008

Sunday, November 11, 2007

David Kelly, SC survivor

Grad student survives brush with West Nile

david kelly with mother gayle

Vince Jackson/Special to the Independent-Mail

Saturday, November 10, 2007, Anderson South Carolina

Gayle and David Kelly, mother and son

Gayle and David Kelly, mother and son

David Kelly was a healthy, 25-year-old graduate student at Clemson University when he realized something was not right.

“I felt weakness in my leg and pain in my lower back,” he said. “The pain did not stay in one place. It moved around to my neck and head.”

The weather in Clemson had been hot and dry in late August — not the kind of weather to produce swarms of mosquitoes.

“I always thought that West Nile virus was something other people got. Certainly not my son,” said David’s mother, Gayle Kelly.

Mr. Kelly had attended orientation at the university’s Outdoor Lab, but doesn’t remember being bitten by an insect.

“I have no idea how I got this disease,” he said.

Gayle Kelly said she realized something was terribly wrong with her son when he could not walk properly and began to shake uncontrollably. At the emergency room, Mr. Kelly was diagnosed with pneumonia and told to go home to recover. At home, he was too weak to get out of the car, so his mother took him back to the emergency room and demanded he be treated.

“Doctors have since told me that I saved David’s life by being so insistent,” she said.

Once the seriousness of Mr. Kelly’s illness became apparent to doctors, they drew blood and ordered a spinal tap and CAT scan. They were focusing on two possibilities: the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre or West Nile virus.

The next day Mr. Kelly’s temperature climbed to 104 degrees and he suffered spasmodic jerking of his body. He was conscious, but could not perform neurological tests such as touching the end of his nose with his index finger. More tests were ordered, including an MRI and nerve conduction test.

Ms. Kelly recalled that she was beginning to face the possibility that her only son would not survive. Mr. Kelly was transferred to Greenville Memorial Hospital, where doctors found that anti-convulsive drugs administered to him were having an adverse effect on brain function.

“I had to decide whether or not to give him the seizure drugs because of the side effects,” Ms. Kelly said. “No one knew if it would kill him or not, to stop those drugs.”

Mr. Kelly’s temperature dropped as low as 95 degrees and he developed a heart arrhythmia due to interactions among the different drugs he was being given. Finally, after a week in the hospital, doctors told Mr. Kelly they had an idea what his illness was: West Nile virus.

“The hospital could not tell us that David had WNV, only that he had WNV antibodies in his blood,” said Ms. Kelly. Either DHEC or CDC must confirm WNV, and that took another 2ƒ weeks.

Eventually Mr. Kelly was transferred to Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Center, where he spent nearly two weeks and gradually began walking again, with the aid of a walker and cane.

Two months later, Mr. Kelly has recovered enough to return to school, where he works part-time as a graduate assistant. He can now walk short distances, but needs to wear a leg brace to support his foot.

“I am not in pain and I don’t remember much about what happened to me, but I am determined to get completely back to good health,” he said. “The most important thing is to finish my Ph.D. I want to teach business at a university.”

Gayle and David Kelly, mother and son

Gayle and David Kelly, mother and son

As a distant cousin of John C. Calhoun, Mr. Kelly feels a strong connection to Clemson and is grateful for the prayers, encouragement and hope the university community provided during his illness and recovery.

“I love Clemson and all the people associated with it,” he said. “I want everyone to know how much it means to have their support.”

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Megan Cherkas, CAN survivor

Megan Cherkas. credit: Don Healy, The Leader-Post

Cherkas sees good things

Murray McCormick, The Leader-Post

Published: Thursday, November 01, 2007

Megan Cherkas, who has battled through knee injuries in three previous seasons with the University of Regina Cougars, pronounced herself healthy for the 2007-08 women's basketball season.

Not so fast. Cherkas was feeling great about the upcoming season before being infected with the West Nile virus in August. While her knees are strong, she was weakened by the virus that is transferred to humans by mosquitoes.

"I didn't get the one with the flu symptoms,'' said Cherkas, a fourth-year guard with the Cougars. "I just felt drained all of the time. I couldn't breathe when I ran and I thought that I developed allergies over the summer.''

University of Regina Cougars guard Megan Cherkas.View Larger Image View Larger Image

University of Regina Cougars guard Megan Cherkas. credit: Don Healy, The Leader-Post

Cherkas saw a doctor, who diagnosed that she had West Nile. Cherkas was able to bounce back after plenty of rest. Cherkas added that Meryl Jordan, another guard with the Cougars, was infected with the West Nile virus during the summer.

"I was lucky because mine was really minor,'' Cherkas said.

Cherkas and the Cougars begin the 2007-08 Canada West season on the weekend with two games at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport. The Cougars, ranked seventh in the CIS pre-season poll, play the Trinity Western Spartans on Friday and the Simon Fraser Clan on Saturday. The Clan are the CIS's top-ranked team and the defending national champions. Both games tip off at 6 p.m. The men's team also opens play Friday against the same schools at 8 p.m. on both nights.

The Cougars women's team rolls into the season with high expectations. After two years of pleading patience with the development of a young team, the Cougars are poised to reap the rewards of the learning process.

"People used to tell us that it was OK to be inexperienced,'' said Cherkas. "It wasn't OK but that was one of the reasons. Now we have players in our third and fourth years and it's time.''

Dave Taylor, who returns for his second full season as the Cougars head coach, anticipates this season being the "pay-off" year for the squad. There are six fourth-year players and four players in their third season with the Cougars.

"We knew that we were building for this year,'' Taylor said. "If we can stay healthy, we can be very good.''

Being good enough means winning their division and being one of the final four teams at the Canada West championship. The Canadian championship is March 13-16 in Saskatoon.

"Once there, you win one game and you're at nationals,'' Taylor said. "Our goal is to be playing well at the Final Four weekend.''

That comes back to the maturing of the Cougars. The younger players learned about the university game while logging significant minutes in their first and second years. They also gave away a great deal of experience to older teams.

The future looks bright because there aren't any fifth-year players on the roster. That means the Cougars should remain intact for another season when they play host to the 2009 CIS women's basketball championship.

"That's the year when we should be at our best,'' Taylor said.

Cherkas felt that one of the advantages of playing as youngsters with the Cougars was they have all become friends. They hung out over the summer and are close heading into the new season. Those bonds will be needed to carry through with the team's goals for this season and next.

"We've all matured together,'' Cherkas said. "We've matured into responsible adults. We aren't children anymore and we know what we have to get done. Being women now, we are naturally much stronger.''

Among the Cougars' fourth-year players are Chelsea Cassano, Jacquie Kenyon, Maja Kralovcova, Jessica Lynch and Jordan. Gabby Gheyssen returns after being named to the CIS all-rookie team in 2007.

Among the notable newcomers are post Brittany Read and Lynch. Read moves into the CIS level after playing with the Balfour Redmen.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Donald "Don” Lee Wood, OK

By Ron Jackson
Staff Writer MIAMI, OK —

Donald "Don” Lee Wood lost the love of his life in June when his wife of 64 years died of heart failure. To no one's surprise, the 85-year-old Wood died less than two months later.

Wood, family members believed, died of a broken heart.

But an autopsy showed it was the West Nile virus.

"We were at the house before the funeral when we got the call,” said Richard Wood, 60, of Miami and the older of Don's two sons. "They told us he had the West Nile virus. We were stunned. Who would have thought West Nile virus?”

Richard paused and then mused, "I told my brother, ‘Mom must have sent that mosquito down here to get him.' ”

On Aug. 6, Don Wood became one of seven Oklahomans to die from the West Nile virus this year. As with most known cases, Wood's outdoor activity and advanced age likely proved to be a lethal combination.

He enjoyed sitting on his deck with his wife, Mary, and despite his battle with macular degeneration, always insisted on doing his own yard work.

"I'd come over to mow his lawn, and he would never let me do the whole thing,” Richard Wood said. "He always insisted on doing at least a portion.

"I'd bet that mosquito got him while he was fiddling around out back there.”

It can harm anyone
Miami also proved to be the wrong place for the elder Wood prior to his death.

The Ottawa County seat was swarming with mosquitoes in the weeks following its historic July 4 flooding. The problem was so bad, city crews were spraying neighborhoods.

Health, otherwise, didn't appear to be an issue with Wood. He remained slender throughout his life, lifted dumbbells every day and took vitamins because of his eye problems.

He worked 30 years with the Douglas Aircraft Co. in Tulsa, and stressed the importance of a strong work ethic. He also stressed an active lifestyle, coaching his sons' youth baseball teams and supporting them in their studies and extracurricular athletic endeavors, the sons said.

Wood lived that philosophy until West Nile ended his life.

"He worked out every day,” said Scott Wood, 50, of Tulsa and Don's youngest son. "Heck, he was probably in better shape than me.”

Scott Wood now understands that's the point with West Nile virus. It can harm anyone of any age at any time. He hopes others take heed.

"I remember we used to cut wood, and we'd be out all day long in the woods,” Scott Wood recalled. "We'd come home, and pick 10, 15 ticks off us and not think a thing about it. Mosquito bites? Didn't matter.

"Who thought about mosquito repellent? We do now.”

Debbie Fiddler, OK Survivor

Sun November 4, 2007

Faces of West Nile: 'Not knowing what was wrong' was the hardest part for survivor

By Ron Jackson
Staff Writer
EDMOND — Debbie Fiddler is an active real estate agent, golfer and gardener.

She's also a West Nile virus survivor.

"I'm told I was the 14th case in Oklahoma County,” said Fiddler, 48. "There are a lot of people in Oklahoma County. What are the odds?”

Fortunately for Fiddler, she had odds of a different kind in her favor — her age.

Of the seven Oklahomans who have died this year from the West Nile virus, none have been younger than 60. Five of the victims were between the ages of 80 and 87.

In retrospect, Fiddler said she is grateful she outlasted the potentially deadly virus as well as she did.

Fiddler experienced flu-like symptoms with muscle aches, cold chills, a low-grade fever and chronic fatigue for more than two weeks. She spent most of her time in bed, stressing over her bed-ridden state and the sunshine peering in through her bedroom window.

"I love to garden and golf all the time, and here I was unable to move, completely exhausted, and it's beautiful outside,” she said. "Of course, the toughest part was not knowing what was wrong.”

Blood test results took 11 days.

"When I found out I had contracted West Nile, I was shocked,” Fiddler said. "But, in another sense, I wasn't. I work out all the time on my back porch. I love being outside, and I will forever be convinced that's where I was bitten by the mosquito.

"I used to think spraying around me was enough. I've never liked bug spray.”

Not anymore.

"Now I spray my skin all the time,” Fiddler added. "And so do my friends.”

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

James William Cook Sr. , OK-Victim

Faces of West Nile: Even the 'strongest man in the world' wasn't safe from virus
James William Cook Sr.

By Ron Jackson, Staff Writer--CUSHING

James William Cook Sr. was the undisputed "strongest man in the world” to his children. A man who once fought his way out of a coma following a major car wreck.

So when Cook died from a mosquito bite Sept. 28 — becoming one of seven Oklahomans to die from the West Nile virus this year — his loved ones were shocked.

"A mosquito,” said Jim Cook Jr., 49, of Agra in disbelief. "It's still hard to believe that's what killed my dad. To me, he was the strongest man in the world.

"If he could die like that, any of us could.”

Cook Sr., 81, of Cushing and his family discovered the randomness of the deadly West Nile virus, which experts say is most harmful when it preys on youngest and oldest among us. For the Cook family, the West Nile virus is no longer just a disease heard on the news.

It's personal. "My father's doctor told us he used to go home each evening and sit out on his porch,” said Betty Cook, 50, of Coyle and the eldest of six Cook children. "After watching what this disease did to my father, he said he wouldn't do that anymore.”

The end was slow and agonizing for the elder Cook.

Dizziness suddenly plagued him. He felt like he was in a fog. He became nauseous and weak.

"We first took him to the hospital here in Cushing, but they failed to diagnose what was wrong,” said daughter Terrie Ostmeyer, 45, of Cushing. "For a while, we thought maybe he needed new glasses. I took him to the eye doctor twice.”

But the dizziness continued.

Putting family first

Only a year earlier James Cook was doing what he loved to do — work.

Over the years he was a truck driver, a traveling evangelist and a butcher. He was never idle. Even in his final years, he sought employment, working at Wal-Mart for a time and even a local car wash.

Before his death, he even boldly applied for work at the Cimarron Correctional Facility — a prison in Cushing. He wanted to be a correctional officer.

"They told him he was too old,” Betty Cook said with a laugh. "He was upset. He said, ‘Can they do that?' ”

James Cook prided himself on being a strong man.

Grandchildren often hung on his outstretched arms for fun. Years earlier, Jim Cook witnessed his father balance two 75-pound boxes of beef in the palms of his outstretched hands to the amusement and wonderment of his younger co-workers.

Family meant everything to him. He treated his wife, children and grandchildren to wiener roasts, picnics, camping trips, and vacations to places such as Colorado and California.

And he sacrificed for them.

"I remember one time when I was in fifth-grade,” Betty Cook recalled. "I walked through the front door, and I saw Dad sitting in his chair with his legs extended. The soles of his shoes had been worn through, and he must have cut some cardboard from a meat box to use as a cushion on the cement floor.

"I thought, ‘Gee, Dad needs new shoes.”

Betty choked back the tears.

"Then I looked down at my shoes,” she continued. "I was wearing new black and white oxfords.”

‘Tell everyone we know'

Four years ago at the age of 77, Cook suffered severe head trauma in a car accident. He spent 49 days in the hospital, 10 of which were spent in a coma.

He made a full recovery, and took advantage of his second chance.

Morning coffee was almost always followed by a trip to the front porch, where he'd ease into the worn pads of his metal swing and listen to the wind chimes.

Summer nights also beckoned him to his front porch swing — the spot where his family thinks he was ultimately infected by a mosquito bite.

"He loved to sit outside,” said Wilma Cook, his wife of 50 years. "A lot of times I'd find him on the swing asleep.”

Then one August day Cook became overwhelmed by a dizziness he called, "the blind staggers.” The ailment made no sense to those most intimate with his life.

Finally, on Sept. 8, his family admitted him into the VA Medical Center in Oklahoma City. Doctors diagnosed him with the West Nile virus eight days later. Within two weeks, Cook was dead.

"The doctor told us to tell everyone we know about the West Nile virus,” Terrie Ostmeyer said. "Tell our family, our friends, people at our church ... everyone.”

No one needs to tell her 9-year-old daughter, though.

Alexa Ostmeyer visited her grandfather's bedside before his death. As usual, he mustered enough strength to playfully stick his tongue out at his granddaughter.

She smiled despite the sorrow.

"He struggled really hard, but he said, ‘I love you,' ” Alexa recalled. "Then he squeezed my hand real tight.”

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Robert Moore, ND survivor

It took the West Nile Virus to slow this Devils Lake teaching legend down

By Mike Bellmore - Features Editor

Long-time Devils Lake teacher Bob Moore relaxes in his room at Heartland Care as he recovers from a tough bout with West Nile Disease this fall.

In early August, long-time Devils Lake High School art instructor Robert Moore was all signed, sealed and primed for his 52nd year of teaching.

A pesky little mosquito put those plans in shambles.

A week after he was bitten by the mosquito, Moore was diagnosed with West Nile Disease. The disease has been fatal to some in North Dakota and elsewhere, and affected his central nervous system.

Since that time, he’s been in five different hospitals, rehab centers and care facilities. Now, at Heartland Care here in Devils Lake he says he’s getting better and the care he has received has been fabulous.

“These people have been so nice,’’ he marvels. “I’ve got wonderful therapists and couldn’t ask for more caring people. It has been a marvelous experience.’’

Moore, who was honored by the Park Board a few months ago for his 50 years of work with that organization, couldn’t speak, chew food or handle any type of solid food for weeks. He’s been, basically, on a liquid diet.

As he became the 111th of 328 West Nile victims in North Dakota this year, he was vomitting and sick to his stomach with a 103 degree temperature over four days. He was constantly tired and had a stroke as well.

He’s been hospitalized in Devils Lake, Hallock, Grand Forks, and spent time at the Grand Forks Rehab Center before landing here at Heartland Care in Devils Lake.

Moore was being visited by family members Betty Youngren and Bill Moore of Hallock, who wanted to extend heartfelt thanks to the community for the care Bob has received.

What perhaps made him even sicker this fall was knowing he was missing out on a big part of his life - the kids and the people he works with at the school.

“It’s my life and I really miss it,’’ the 73-year-old smiled. “This is the first time I’ve ever missed so much school - the longest I’ve ever been away from school.’’

Moore says he’s feeling well enough to maybe visit the school next week, but he’s unsure about a return. He says he’s getting stronger and feeling better by the day.

(For a copy of this News story see the Thursday, October 11, 2007 Journal) 10/11/07

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Matthew Arambula, Bakersfield, CA

MSN Tracking Image

West Nile Virus survivor recommends prevention

A second survivor of the West Nile Virus came forward Thursday, talking about the dangers of the deadly virus. This comes after the health department issued another warning to Kern County residents. The health department said all residents need to take the threat of the deadly virus more seriously.A second survivor of the West Nile Virus came forward Thursday, talking about the dangers of the deadly virus.

This comes after the health department issued another warning to Kern County residents.

The health department said all residents need to take the threat of the deadly virus more seriously.

In the past, they've stressed West Nile affects children and the elderly more than others, but like one West Nile Virus survivor said, he didn't know it's the middle-aged people, from 30-60 years old, that may be most at risk.

"I don't know where I contracted it," said West Nile Virus survivor Matthew Arambula, 38. "It couldn't have been at work. At 6 a.m., mosquitoes are out then, or at the ball field with my kids, I don't even know where I got bit."

Arambula never thought he could catch West Nile Virus, but a call from a local blood bank broke the news to him.

"Houchin [Blood Bank] called, 'Matthew, we have something to tell you ... don't get scared,'" Arambula explained. "I said, 'What's wrong?' . They said I had West Nile . and asked how I'd been feeling ... I said, 'Well, my back's sore, I can't get out of bed, I'm going to call in sick.' They said, 'Go see a doctor right away.'"

People like Arambula were the focus of a health department news conference Thursday.

Director of Disease Control Dr. Boyce Dulan said mosquitoes don't care how old you are when they bite, so the focus for all residents in Kern County, the epicenter of West Nile, is prevention.

"Don't get bitten and we can put a lid on this disease," Dulan said.

Statewide there are 137 cases of West Nile Virus with 78 cases in Kern County. Fresno only has nine cases of West Nile Virus.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for Kern County after seeing the alarming number of West Nile cases.

The emergency funds freed up nearly $200,000 to help Kern County fight the bite.

Rob Quiring with Kern Mosquito and Vector Control said last week's aerial spraying killed 90 percent of mosquitoes in their test pods, but said they've still got a long way to go in treating mosquito breeding grounds.

Meantime, Arambula said beware.

"Protect yourself, protect your kids," he said. "Don't think it can't happen to you because it can . We used to joke about it at work . a little mosquito can't bring down a big guy ... well, it did."

The state has provided thousands of boxes of insect repellant to the local health department. They will be giving out a Cutter insect repellant at public events in the future.

Visit,,, or


© 2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Former police chief DuPey gets West Nile-IL

Former police chief DuPey gets West Nile

August 25, 2007
HAMMOND -- Former Hammond Police Chief Frank DuPey Sr. is hospitalized with West Nile virus, according to his wife, Lake County Commissioner Frances "Fran" DuPey.

Frank DuPey has spent more than a week in St. Margaret Mercy Medical Center, his wife said Friday.

"He's past the really critical time as far as surviving, which is the most important thing, because 43 percent of people his age who get this don't make it," DuPey said.

She said her husband ran a fever over 103 degrees for several days, and needed to be wrapped in cooling blankets at the hospital to keep his temperature down.

"He has been sick more than two weeks. At first, doctors thought he had a regular bacteria, and treated him with antibiotics," Fran DuPey said. "But he just kept getting worse."

State health officials this week reported two probable human cases of

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Wayne Hinrichs, NE

Early West Nile Cases Cause Worry

Friday 6.22.07, 10:50 p.m.

The North Platte man infected with the West Nile virus says he's feeling much better now. Once you get West Nile, you'll always have the antibody in your system, but only in the most severe cases do symptoms reappear.

One man from Hildreth got the disease two years ago, and while he feels fine now, he remembers all too well how painful it was to have the virus.

Wayne, "I had such a terrible stomach ache. I thought surely farming finally got to me and I got an ulcer out of this deal, but then I started getting terrible headaches."

The symptoms only got worse, until they were more than enough to send Wayne Hinrichs seeking help.

"Then I went to the doctor in town." Wayne said. "Hildreth has a clinic, and they took a blood sample because I started feeling a tingling sensation in my legs and that scared me."

Wayne had a mild to severe case of the West Nile virus almost worse than the case recently found in North Platte. Officials there are taking preventative measures, by putting tablets in areas of still water.

West Nile Surveillance Coordinator Nora Camberos said, "If a mosquito comes in and tries to breed in that spot, it will not let the full cycle be completed so they can't actually emerge and hatch."

Although cases of West Nile are emerging earlier this year, it could go either way when it comes to how many people are infected.

"If we continue to have a cooler summer, it may not be as bad a problem in most areas, but if it ends up being hot
and dry, it will be the perfect environment for mosquitoes to breed," said Camberos.

After experiencing the symptoms so close to home, the Hinrichs are certain the warnings aren't something to brush off.

"I consider myself lucky," said Wayne. "I got a friend in Minden who was paralyzed for a while. He couldn't even walk."

His wife Peggy Hinrichs added, "I just always wear bug spray now. If a mosquito bites me, I go in and get the bug spray, or else I go in and stay in, so it's changed a lot of what we do."

Reporter's Notes by Crystal Calloway:

It seems early to have two cases in Nebraska already, but as of June 12 South Dakota and Iowa each had one case. Mississippi had four.

Jerry Barton, Survivor WI

West Nile virus survivor thankfulJerry Barton recalls struggle with disease five years later
June 24, 2007

Jerry Barton stands next to a Marines bumper sticker on the back of his truck and holds a can of bug spray while at his home in the town of Waukesha. After participating in a Marines bug repellent program while he was in the service, Barton was infected with the West Nile virus a few years ago.
WAUKESHA - Sixty years ago, Jerry Barton helped the U.S. Marines on a special mission to test mosquito repellent while on duty at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C.
"Every night I racked up the most bites in our group," Barton, now 78, said of the three-night experience as a young Marine.
Nearly five years ago, Barton says the mosquitoes got their revenge.
Another mosquito bite gave Barton, who lives in the town of Waukesha, major trouble. He contracted the West Nile virus, one of just a few cases in Waukesha County in 2002.
"It was a nightmare," said Barton’s daughter, Lori Barton. "We’re just lucky he pulled through."
Barton knew the mosquitoes were bad that summer, and he was careful about wearing repellent - most of the time. However, he didn’t always use it for his quick trips to the newspaper box. He figures that’s when he got bitten.
The morning of Oct. 1, 2002, he collapsed on the floor of his Genesee Road home and couldn’t get up. He was there three hours before his son found him and called for help.
"I could see the hard-wired telephone, but I couldn’t get to it," he said.
For full story, go to the electronic version of The Freeman. Click here to access the electronic version.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Elizabeth Zopff, CO

Technology Can Help Those Paralyzed By West Nile Virus
Device Called Ness L300

By Jane Slater, 7NEWS Reporter
POSTED: 4:27 pm MST March 1, 2007
UPDATED: 7:02 pm MST March 1, 2007

FT.COLLINS, Colo. -- Elizabeth Zopff, 34, said she's had it with her brace and the cane that helps her walk upright.
"It digs into your skin. It's painful. It's hot,"said Zopff.
Zopff hasn't always had numbness in her leg. She contracted West Nile virus two years ago on her family farm. It left her right leg numb and devoid of motion.
"When the fever broke, just nothing, nothing was the same," said Zopff.

It's a reality Zopff has struggled with and fought to overcome. But a recent technological advancement has helped her move along.
"I walked with my cane the other day for the first time in years, two years," she said.
The wireless device, dubbed the Ness L300, is giving her back the mobility that the disease took away.
"The electrical stimulation allows the muscles to do the work that they were designed to do. The sensor under the foot communicates wirelessly with the brace," said physical therapist Amanda Barnhart.

The device forces her leg to do the work, instead of relying on the leg brace.
"It literally is completely life-changing," said Zopff.
Zopff said she already has big plans for the device but realizes it will take baby steps to get there.
"I'd like to chase my kid around the playground a little bit. That would be amazing. I'd like to walk in the grocery store and not be totally exhausted. It's difficult you realize how much you take for granted,"said Zopff.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ken Speake: In his own words- MN (2)

Ken Speake: In his own words
Watch the story about Daisy, featured in February 12th's 5 p.m. newscast.
Dear Folks, It's time. I'm retiring.The work continues to be the absolute finest career I can imagine. It's physical. It's generally outdoors. It's fascinating. I get to meet new people, go new places, and learn new things. I get to work with amazingly creative, talented and intelligent people! I can't think of any career that gives a person more chances for greater variety of knowledge! And absolutely nothing provides the ego gratification of being a TV news reporter. I just so enjoy the work! And I think I'm fine at gathering news in the field.getting out...working with the photographer to get the details and images and sounds of the story to which we're assigned. (All week we'll feature Ken's favorite stories in the 5 p.m. newscast. Click here to see those stories and read more about Ken's amazing career.)But, I just get so tired! I've struggled with fatigue since West Nile Virus knocked me off my feet for two months in the Fall of 2003. I'm just so tired. There are times I want to cry. It's the mental work at the word processor that is energy expensive for me now.In January of 2006, I began working four days a week. Wednesdays, I sleep. It helps. But the fatigue piles up...kinda snowballs, if you will.I'm confused and angered that I don't have the vigor I want to have. I remember being vigorous. It was fun. So, I'm going to retire. When I told my boss Tom Lindner, News Director and VP, he suggested that I'm not retiring, so much as changing careers. I am hoping to put my voice to work and do narration as my second career. I've volunteered to read to a couple of school classes. Volunteer opportunities abound! Over the years, folks have told me my stuff was different, interesting, refreshing, and they like hearing how and why people do what they do to get through life. As my work here ends, I'm beginning to accept the fact that they weren't blowing me a lot of smoke. My life at KARE 11 has been, well, a darn good one. And, while it scares me to think of not being "Ken Speake, KARE 11 News," my new life is filled with possibilities, thanks to the support of my family, my colleagues and oh so many friends. My thanks to all of you for sharing life's journey with me.Best Regards,Ken SpeakeKARE 11 NewsKen Speake, KARE 11 News.

Ken Speake-MN

KARE reporter Speake, suffering from West Nile, retiring
By The Associated Press
.MINNEAPOLIS — Longtime KARE-TV reporter Ken Speake has announced his retirement because of the long-term affects of West Nile virus.Speake, 61, contracted the virus in 2003 and a neurologist said it has left him with brain damage in his left temporal lobe, which controls language function. That has made condensing, synthesizing and creating a story nearly impossible.Speake is known for his delivery of long-form pieces in a deep, folksy, smooth voice. But he hasn’t done a long-form story for two years because the three- to six-minute pieces became too much to handle.After taking some short-term disability leave, Speake cut back to a four-day workweek and focused on shorter news stories. But the weariness and fatigue became too much.“I don’t like the idea of retiring at all,” Speake said. “I love the work, but I’m tired of being tired. I have to come home and take a nap as soon as work’s over. If I don’t, then I’m pretty much wasted for the night.Speake’s thoughtful storytelling backed up with sharp reporting earned numerous awards over the years.“Emotions — that’s what makes the story special,” Speake explained.“I like to show people something that they might not otherwise be able to see,” he said. “I live for what I call ’Thank You, God moments’ — things that don’t have to happen when I’m there, but they do.”“Work has caused me to appreciate life and people,” he said. “It’s given me an insight to the human condition. I’ve learned what’s inconsequential to you is life-changing to someone else.”Speake’s last day at KARE-TV will be Friday.After that, Speake plans to spend more time with his wife, Donna, who is a counselor at Maple Grove High School, and his three sons, ages 17, 29 and 33. Next month, he’s traveling to Australia, and in the summer, he’s planning to go to Ireland and spend some time in the Boundary Waters.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Donnie Manry, TX

A 24-year veteran of the Bryan police department went home from the hospital Friday, after a five and a half month battle with the West Nile Virus.
NBC 6 News first introduced you to Sergeant Donnie Manry in August. Sergeant Manry contracted the virus from a mosquito bite.

He was initially paralyzed from the waist down. With short, determined steps, Manry walked out the doors of Saint Joseph Hospital in Bryan Friday afternoon.
His wife Stephanie said, "I don't know if we know of any other way to be. I mean you just have to make the best of it and that's what we were determined to do so, and that's what's gotten us where we are."

Last August Manry's neck and shoulders became stiff and his temperature shot up to 103 degrees.

At first doctors thought he had the flu, but eleven days after his first symptoms appeared, Manry was diagnosed with West Nile Virus.
Doctors said his future was uncertain, but Manry never gave up.
During the last five and a half months, Manry has undergone extensive physical therapy to relearn things that used to be second nature.

Lead Therapist Julie Cerna said, "He had to relearn how to do all of his activities of daily living, which included how to get in and out of bed, to walk and even being able to bathe and dress again."

Slowly but surely, Manry has gone from being paralyzed from the waist down to now walking with assistance as far as 600 feet.
"Just as recently as last week, there was some new progress and I had my ankle, I was able to move my ankle just a little bit.

I was on the phone with everybody because the progress is still coming,” Manry said.
Manry's children said they're glad he's finally coming home.
Daughter Chelsea said, "I am looking forward to just cuddling up on the couch, watching movies or eating dinner all together. [I’m looking forward to him just] being there like normal.”

The Manry family said while this has been a horrible experience for them, they have learned one big lesson from it; they will never take each other for granted.

Kadi Renowden, WI

Kadi Renowden, age 63, Madison, WI -September 2006

Kadi still works full time in an active hospital job, but manifested WNV over Labor Day, 2006 with the usual symptoms (headache, severe fatigue, muscle and neck pain, nausea). Her temperature was low grade, only about 100, but a white blood count at the urgent care was extremely low. Kadi, a nurse, told the MD at urgent care she thought she had WNV, as mosquitoes swarmed around her back porch, undeterred by DEETand she'd had many bites 8 days earlier. She was told she didn't have WNV. She has little recollection of the following 3 days, except for developing a rash, again being told she didn't have WNV when a call was placed to urgent care. Symptoms persisted for nearly 2 weeks, including another acute bout with nausea.

She returned to her internist to check her blood count before returning to work, suggesting she'd had WNV. "You don't have WNV," she was told. Kadi is also a post polio survivor with post polio symptoms. WNV attacks the anterior horn cells of the spinal cord, in the same manner that WNV does, with many correlations. After multiple increased falls, including twice down stairs in 3 weeks, she knew her legs were significantly weaker . She requested another EMG of her legs (a diagnostic test for neuromuscular disorders). Believing she had had WNV, she asked the Dr. to order a test. She had also learned that a neighbor 2 blocks away had been hospitalized for the same time she'd been ill. She was found to be positive for WNV, the 21st confirmed case in WI in 2006. Her own Dr. still refutes that she knew when she had it.

Testing at the time she came down with it might not have tested positive. Therefore, anyone who believes they have the virus need to be tested around a week later, if negative initially.

Kadi's post polio symptoms have been aggravated by the WNV, not unexpectedly, with continued symptoms of sleepiness , fatigue and increased muscle pain. She feels her symptoms may have resolved better had she been tested and encouraged to recuperate more than the 3 days she lost from work; if doctors had listened and paid attention to the symptoms, instead of discounting them. This is possibly the first reported case of a post polio syndrome patient contracting WNV. Since the effect WNV non post polio symptoms is yet unknown, PPS patients need to be especially judicious to avoid exposure, given the specific mechanisms of both diseases, with a worsening of PPS symptoms.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Chris Cottrell WI

Appleton Post-Crescent: Your Fox Cities News Source - Oshkosh man recovers after bout with West Nile

Posted January 23, 2007Oshkosh man recovers after bout with West Nile
By Krista B. Ledbetter of The Northwestern
Wear bug spray.

That's all Chris Cottrell can offer as advice. Cottrell, of Oshkosh, spent the past four months on short-term disability, suffering headaches, fatigue, tremors and numbness. Cottrell contracted West Nile virus last summer, and while he couldn't do much to rid his body of the virus, he's now well aware of what can be done to prevent it.

He believes an infected mosquito bit him while in the woods near Tomahawk in August, he said, but it wasn't until a couple weeks later that debilitating symptoms landed him in the hospital for blood tests. And blood tests confirmed West Nile virus.

Chris Cottrell, photographed with his children Shauna, 11, and Al, 15, was out of work for four months after contracted West Nile in August. Cottrell said he still feels fatigue and numbness on his left side. Oshkosh Northwestern Photo by Shu-Ling Zhou
According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Nile virus is a potentially serious illness, spread to a human by a bite from an infected mosquito. In worst-case scenarios, people develop severe symptoms, such as paralysis, vision loss, or even death, but 80 percent of people who are infected never show symptoms at all.

"Your luck has got to be pretty lousy to get this," Cottrell said.

Only one case of West Nile virus was confirmed in Oshkosh last year, said city health director Paul Spiegel.

"Offhand, I don't think we've had any prior human cases here," Spiegel said. "But statewide, a couple years ago, we had a number of widespread cases. The virus spread right across the continental United States."

Spiegel said West Nile virus is likely here to stay. The virus appears to be widespread, and will flare up year after year.

As for Cottrell, he believes he's immune to the virus now, which is a blessing. While out of work for four months and on short-term disability, Cottrell had to seek help from the state to assist him with feeding his two teenage children, and he nearly lost his home. His first day back at work was Jan. 8.

For Christmas, Cottrell's employer, Multi-Conveyor LLC in Winneconne, gathered $1,300 in employee donations, and matched that in order to provide Cottrell and his family a large sum of money to get through the holidays, as well as gifts and food.

"Christmas would've been really slim without it. It was a big-time struggle," he said. "I work with some fantastic guys."

Cottrell found the inability to treat the virus the most frustrating, he said. While he sat at home, battling intense headaches and losing weight – 30 pounds in all – doctors were unable to help, except to treat his symptoms. At one point, he said, he was taking pain relievers, including the occasional Vicodin, every two hours to relieve the aches.

"I can't believe (the government) can't come up with a way to fix this virus," he said.

Although most of Cottrell's symptoms have subsided, he still has the occasional tremor, and a slight numbness on the left side of his face and in his left leg.

"I'm nervous about whether I'm going to fully recover," he said.

Spiegel said a small percentage of the infected population develop severe symptoms, but the health department still stresses that there is potential for severity.

"People should be using good, protective measures when out during mosquito season," Spiegel said. "It's going to be difficult to completely avoid the possibility of contracting it, but the best thing you can do is try to protect yourself from being bitten as best you can."

Krista B. Ledbetter: (920) 426-6656 or

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Megan Suzanne Most, Nevada

Nevada Appeal - News: "Douglas West Nile victim still fighting

January 21, 2007--by Susie Vasquez

Progress has been slow, but the fight continues for Megan Suzanne Most, the Douglas County resident who acquired a case of West Nile virus that led to meningitis and ultimately, a crippling paralysis.

Stricken by the disease in July, this single mother of three girls is now talking and breathing on her own. She has movement in one arm and leg, and can move her neck.

In late November, she was on a ventilator most of the time and could not move her head. Most is 34.

'We just keep pushing her,' said Tina Alaniz, one of Most's friends. 'That's all we can do and hope it gets better.'

After the onset of the infection, Most was treated at Carson-Tahoe Hospital, then transferred to South Meadows in Reno for long-term rehabilitative care.

Now that she is off the ventilator she is ready for the next step, a move to Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, Calif., where she will enter a program for patients with spinal chord injuries. The program will equip her with a wheelchair and teach her how to use it,"

"They (Sharp officials) say she's a very good candidate for this program," she said. "Now, it's a matter of when she will go and what she will do afterward."

----- In addition to the physical challenges, Most is facing financial problems with respect to insurance and health care costs. People can send their donations to Greater Nevada Credit Union, account 862957. Checks should be written to Tina Alaniz, for Megan Most. ------

The latest challenge is finding assisted care for her after the Sharp program, which lasts just six weeks, is completed, Alaniz said.

"We're having a big problem with that. Sharp won't take her unless they know what the family is going to do with her after she completes the program, but there are no spots in assisted care in California or Nevada. It's sad," Alaniz said. "We're sitting in limbo."

Right now, Most is scared and upset, and doesn't want to leave northern Nevada because her three daughters are here, Alaniz said.

The girls live with their father in the Reno area.

"It's going to be a long time, but she wants to come home," she said.

Spring is just around the corner and with that, the threat of West Nile as Douglas County's mosquitoes start to swarm.

Alaniz urged people to take precautions, to minimize their chances of acquiring this severe form of the disease.

"People need to be aware of what West Nile can do to someone," she said. "It can hit you hard. Not enough people knew about it last year and everyone I talk to can't believe Megan got this way from West Nile."

A record 123 human cases of West Nile virus were confirmed in Nevada in 2006.

Idaho had more confirmed cases than any other state with a total of 984 and Colorado came in second, with 322. Texas had 327 cases and California, 272, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Thomas Alan Shade, Victim-OH

Man, 31, succumbs to West Nile virus
William Smead says his son, Alan Shade, struggled with the disease since contracting it in 2002.

By Steve Bennish and Ryan Fox

Staff Writers

Thursday, January 18, 2007

WEST CARROLLTON — A man who contracted West Nile Virus in 2002 while at his job at a Middletown warehouse has died of complications from the disease spread by mosquitoes.

Thomas Alan Shade was only 31 when he died in his West Carrollton apartment on Monday after struggling with the disease for years, his father, William Smead of Centerville, said Wednesday night.

Smead said his son, formerly of Franklin, and two co-workers took a break from their jobs at a warehouse. While resting under a tree, they were bitten by mosquitoes and developed flu-like symptoms.

Shade's symptoms worsened and he never recovered, Smead said. He lapsed into a coma for four weeks and remained in the Bellbrook Rehab and Healthcare Center for four years, for a time needing the assistance of a ventilator. When he recently left the center to take up residence in an apartment, he needed the assistance of home care nurses because of partial paralysis, Smead said.

Smead said the Montgomery County Coroner's Office is to perform an autopsy.

Wednesday evening, Bill Wharton of the Montgomery County Combined Health District said he was unaware of any West Nile cases in the county and said the department is not currently monitoring any potential cases. He said the department urges people to protect themselves with repellent during summer months when mosquitoes are active.

The virus is spread by certain species of mosquitoes, which become infected when they bite infected birds, according to the medical Web site WebMD. People then become infected when the mosquitoes bite them.

The majority of infections either cause no symptoms, or they cause symptoms so mild that people don't realize they have been infected, according to WebMD. In rare cases, the virus can lead to inflammation of the brain or the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Fewer than 1 percent of victims will become severely ill, according to the Web site.

Shade also is survived by two daughters, three brothers, and two sisters. Visitation is 6 p.m. Friday, with the funeral at 8 at Gebhart-Schmidt-Parramore Funeral Home, on East Linden Avenue in Miamisburg.

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