Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Lawsuits...listen in


West Nile – Lawyer

This summer, the simple buzz of a mosquito sends shivers up Canadian spines.
People across the country are covering up and stocking up - mosquito repellents and bug zapping devices are flying off the shelves.
West Nile first appeared in our region in 1999. And, since then, 308 people have contracted it in Ontario - 18 of them died and some remain paralysed.

And now, many of these people want some answers . . . and some compensation. So, a group of 12 families are suing the provincial government.
Douglas Elliot is the Toronto lawyer representing the West Nile survivors in the lawsuit.
He joins me from Toronto.

West Nile – Survivor
Pat Anweiler is one of the clients involved in this lawsuit.
She is 45 years old and is now paralysed as a result of the West Nile Virus.
Ms. Anweiler joined us from Toronto.

West Nile – Expert
Well, there are experts who say cases like Pat Anweiler's are extremely rare. Jay Keystone is a physician with the Centre for Travel and Tropical Medicine at the Toronto General Hospital. He's in Toronto.

West Nile – Tape
To stop the spread of West Nile, Health Canada officials go underground.
Months before the virus might strike, scientists scour the sewers to find infected bugs.
Entomologist Robbin Lindsay trudged through the gutters in Windsor and Mississauga trapping mosquitoes for testing.
CBC reporter Shawn Hirtle joined Lindsay on the mosquito hunt.
Listen to The Current: Part 1

Sunday, May 29, 2005

West Nile Virus Survivors Foundation at www.westnilesuvivor.com

Posted on Sun, May. 29, 2005

Some West Nile survivors turn to advocacy to spread the wordALICIA CHANGAssociated Press
LOS ANGELES - Soon after Jack Raney recovered from a West Nile infection that left him comatose for several days, he began his campaign against a disease that stole everything from his job to games of catch with his three kids.
He has lobbied Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for more West Nile funding and helped public health officials promote a speedy new way to test infected birds, which can transmit the virus to mosquitoes that infect people.
As summer ushers in another West Nile season, Raney has joined a small but growing rank of victims who are dedicating themselves to grassroots projects that put a public face on the disease and pressure health officials to do more to prevent its spread.
Disease advocacy isn't a new phenomenon - when AIDS swept the nation in the 1980s, survivors doubled as activists, forming support groups to counsel victims and raise research money. By comparison, West Nile advocacy remains a scattered effort of individuals, partly because it's relatively new and hasn't killed victims in epidemic numbers.
"I'm all for talking about it because it's a lonely disease," said Raney, 47, an Upland resident who had to quit his job as a bricklayer after suffering from depression and memory loss.
West Nile has marched steadily westward since first attacking New York in 1999, killing 684 people and infecting more than 16,000. California bore the brunt last year with more than 800 infections and 28 deaths.
While it's difficult to predict how severe this season might be, some public health officials fear that an unusually wet winter in parts of the West could cause a bloom of mosquitoes, potentially fueling another outbreak. Most West Nile infections are mild, but severe cases can cause paralysis and swelling of the brain.
Mitch Coffman, of Lafayette, La., was a black belt in tae kwon do and motorcycle enthusiast when he contracted West Nile in 2002. He can't do either anymore, but has started a nonprofit called the West Nile Virus Survivors Foundation, creating a Web site with information about the illness, the latest newspaper clippings and stories about other survivors.
Coffman, 40, was a month shy of finishing graduate school when he fell ill. During his recovery, he was struck that not all survivors receive the kind of family support he did.
"I don't want to be anybody's hero," he said. "I just want to let people know that there's a way to survive West Nile."
Shelley Bailey, a 39-year-old single mother from Boulder, Colo., decided to lend her face last year to a county public awareness campaign urging people to take simple preventive steps, such as wearing insect repellent, long sleeves and pants. Four other survivors in Colorado, where the disease killed 61 people in 2003, also took part.
Bailey, who became infected in 2003, took six months off from her job to recover while her mother helped care for her two young children. She continues to battle blurry vision, migraine headaches and muscle weakness.
"I can't imagine somebody going through what I went through," Bailey said. "That's why, whatever I can do to bring awareness, I'll do it."
Raney, the man from east of Los Angeles who contracted West Nile last summer, does not consider himself politically active, but he went to Sacramento in March to ask for $300 million in West Nile funding. Schwarzenegger has proposed spending $12 million in the coming fiscal year for mosquito control projects; local agencies already spend about $90 million annually to combat the disease.
In April, Raney appeared with health officials from a mosquito control agency to promote an instant test for analyzing infected birds. Raney also agreed to let a Taiwanese television crew follow his daily routine in a documentary that will be aired in June. In the film, Raney chronicles the trials of coping with the aftermath of West Nile.
Recently, Raney decided help the hospital that treated him, telling doctors that he would like to counsel West Nile patients and their families through their ordeal. The hospital has not seen any West Nile cases yet this year, but a spokeswoman said it will take up Raney up on his offer for interested patients.
"I'm willing do whatever I have to do, go wherever I have to go, to get the message out," Raney said.
Associated Press researcher Julie Reed contributed to this report.
CDC West Nile page: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile
West Nile Virus Survivors Foundation: http://www.westnilesurvivor.com

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Angie Murray reflects on her
father's death from the West Nile virus,
in her Longmont, Colo. home. (AP)

West Nile Virus Support Group in AZ is active--

West Nile Virus Support Group Forms

Group to provide helpful information, resourcesBanner Good Samaritan Medical Center1111 E. McDowell RoadPhoenix, AZ 85006
Contact: Craig Fischer/Kristine Burnett(602) 239-4411

PHOENIX (April 28, 2005) – Arizona again faces a potentially challenging West Nile Virus (WNV) season. Last year, Arizona led the nation with 400 total WNV cases, which resulted in 14 confirmed deaths. Of those who recover, some suffer from lingering and often debilitating side effects. In simple terms, WNV can be a life-changing disease.
To help survivors cope, a West Nile Virus Support Group has been formed at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. The group is open to those affected by WNV, their family members and anyone interested in learning more about the disease. Beginning May 5, the group will meet the first Thursday of every month at 1 p.m. in Cafeteria Dining Rooms B & C at Banner Good Samaritan, 1111 E. McDowell Road in Phoenix.
For more information about the West Nile Virus Support Group, contact Banner’s Health Information and Resource Line – (602) 230-CARE (2273).
Check out the Banner Health Web site at http://www.BannerHealth.com, keyword “West Nile Virus,” for more information on prevention, symptoms and treatment.

MORE evidence that rehab is greater than 12 months of usual encephalitis recovery time. Many doctors told me one year. one year. one year. dumbasses

Survivors Of West Nile
Virus Tell Of Pain
By Dan D'Ambrosio
The Associated Press

DELTA, Colo. (AP) -- Nearly a year after a red and swollen mosquito bite on her wrist signaled the onset of West Nile virus, Jean Lemon still suffers from crippling bouts of fever.

Her husband, Lowell, also caught the virus and must use oxygen sometimes because he has trouble breathing. He rarely sleeps at night because the virus intensified the pain he feels from arthritis.

"It's been a real slog," said Jean Lemon, a 68-year-old retired dietitian who lives with her 74-year-old husband in this western Colorado town. Even without a fever, she said, "we both had feelings of being so hot, we'd be sitting still, drenched in sweat."

The mosquito-borne virus, which has marched steadily westward since the first domestic case turned up in New York in 1999, is back for another season, carried afar by infected birds.

While the virus has killed more than 560 people in the United States over the past five years, it has left another trail of misery across the country - survivors like the Lemons paralyzed or in searing pain.

"The infection goes away, but if there's severe nerve damage only some of it - and sometimes none of it - is going to be reversible over time," said Dr. Frank Judson, 62, director of the Denver Public Health Department.

Researchers say nearly 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus won't show any symptoms and most of the rest will have only mild flu-like problems.

About one in 150, however, will develop serious symptoms that include high fever, convulsions and paralysis. A very few will die from encephalitis or meningitis, both involving inflammations of the brain.

Like the Lemons, many victims recover with symptoms that don't go away. Others spend months in the hospital before returning home.

Frank Boggs, 73, collapsed last August and was taken to a hospital by his wife, Edith. He lay in a bed for months, paralyzed and on a respirator, before going home in a wheelchair. He said he can't remember three weeks of his life.

"I have a caretaker who comes in every morning and every night," Boggs said. "They exercise my arms and legs and have me standing. It's kind of exciting when I stand. I figure in another couple of months I'll be walking again."

Judson, the Denver health official, said doctors many times can do nothing but wait to see whether West Nile virus patients bounce back from neurological damage.

"If neurological function hasn't recovered by two or three months, then the prospects aren't good," he said. "The older you are, the more severe the disease. The longer the coma, the less likely there's hope for major restoration of function."

Others have succumbed after long, savage battles with a disease that no one has figured out how to fight.

Rick Derksen, 51, died in March after a seven-month struggle against the disease, the last of 61 victims the virus claimed in Colorado during the 2003 season.

His daughter, Angie Murray, 26, remembers admonishing her dad to use mosquito repellent. He was outside a lot in the summer, umpiring softball games for the city of Longmont. "We were always yelling at him to spray himself," Murray said. "He would say, 'I'm wearing pants and a long-sleeve shirt.'"

Murray thinks that is why Derksen was reluctant to answer when doctors asked him if he had been bitten by a mosquito after he ended up in the hospital last August, sick and throwing up. He later owned up.

Soon Derksen was paralyzed from the neck down, unable to speak because he had to be on a respirator.

"We had to learn how to lip read," Murray said. "At the beginning it was hard. He would get real frustrated."

Complicating matters, Derksen was on medication to suppress his immune system because of a liver transplant a decade earlier. Doctors stopped that medication to help boost his immune system to fight off the complications of West Nile virus. He soon became susceptible to infections in the hospital.

Derksen later suffered brain damage, something his family has blamed on the hospital. On March 24, Murray and other relatives made the decision to halt his life support.

"They unhooked him and he kind of opened his eyes," Murray said. "He fought so long to stay with us. It only took 10 minutes. The doctor said his body was ready to go."

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Friday, May 27, 2005

originally posted sept. 5 2003

Thursday, May 26, 2005

California's First

California's 1st of the Year Falls

West Nile Virus Claims State's First Human Victim in 2005
A 53-year-old Glenn County man who contracted the West Nile virus last fall is California's first victim of the disease in 2005.

The California Department of Health Services confirmed that WNV caused the death of Capay resident Daniel Merke. Merke, who was reported to be severely immunosuppressed from anti-rejection drugs taken for two organ transplants, was paralyzed by the infection before succumbing.

The DHS and Glenn County Public Health Department learned of the death when a published obitutary identified West Nile Virus as the cause of death.

According to the state's West Nile Virus website (see link below), the death is the first reported West Nile virus fatality in California this year. Last year, there were 870 cases of West Nile virus infection and 27 deaths.

So far this year, the virus has been detected in 19 California counties. Glenn County was not one of them, although the disease was detected in the county last year.

Since January 1, there have been no new reports of human cases of West Nile virus in California. However, officials expect to begin seeing cases as warm weather and longer days allow people to spend more times outdoors.

The virus, which is transmitted only by mosquitoes, can infect birds, horses, and other animals in addition to humans. It cannot be spread directly from human to human.

West Nile virus is considered relatively difficult to contract, and causes only mild flu-like symptoms in most of those who are infected. However, about one percent of those who contract the disease will develop encephalitis, an infection of the brain, or meningitis, an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord. Either of the more serious conditions can be fatal.

Experts with the Centers for Disease Control say the best way to prevent West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites. People who spend time outdoors are advised to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, apply a mosquito-repellent that contains DEET, and avoid peak mosquito hours in the evening hours.

The CDC also recommends cleaning areas of standing water where mosquitoes can breed and making sure window and door screens are in good repair.

Because the disease is often first detected in diseased birds, public health officials are asking that the discovery of dead birds be reported to the local county health department.

California West Nile Virus Information

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

NICE--a little activism

Extracted from http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/Stories/0,1413,209~22484~2885737,00.html#

"Saving even one life this year is worth a substantial investment, said Jack Raney of Upland, a West Nile virus survivor who related his story to the committee.

The 46-year-old Raney became ill in August. West Nile encephalitis and meningitis left him clinging to life, in a coma and on a respirator at the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center. Nine months later, Raney continues to suffer from damage to his brain and nervous system, unable to work and struggling to deal with day-to-day living.

"There are no words to express the loneliness I feel and the loss of self worth," he said.

Regarding funding prevention efforts, Raney said, "There is no price too great."

About 1 percent of those infected with the virus through a mosquito bite, like Raney, experience severe problems including swelling of the brain or spinal cord, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Richard wasn't so lucky.

Monday, May 23, 2005

CDC Letter Page 2

CDC Letter Page 3

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Louisiana's Fight The Bite

"It all happened pretty fast"

Saturday, May 21, 2005

West Nile Virus Survivor

Friday, May 20, 2005

Tainted Blood

Blood Supply. You don't hear much about this frightening thought.

West Nile Virus Spinal Fluid

West Nile Virus Blood Test

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Survivors Meeting in AZ