Inland Empire News

Upland man contracts West Nile Virus

Friday, September 07, 2012

Health officials have called it the worst year ever for West Nile Virus. So far 87 people have died nationwide, five of them in California.

An Inland Empire man has emerged from a coma brought on by the disease. But he's not in the clear.

One of the latest victims, a man in the Inland Empire, is now out of the coma but not in the clear. He remains hospitalized. He is one of 13 people diagnosed with the disease in California this week.

Karen Smith's 66-year-old father Raymond Charles Smith is fighting for his life after he was infected with the West Nile Virus.

"He noticed that he got bit by a mosquito and approximately a day and a half later, he became very, very weak," said Smith.

Smith says her father experienced tremors, headaches and severe diarrhea. When his temperature spiked at 104, Smith drove him to San Antonio Community Hospital, where he was admitted into the intensive care unit.

"He was just very ill and very weak," said Smith. "He couldn't stand, and every time he tried to stand, he would fall."

The results of a blood test six days later came back positive for West Nile Virus. The test also revealed her father has neuroinvasive West Nile, which is considered the most serious form of the illness because it affects the brain.

Infectious disease specialist Doctor Sohan Bassi says 1 percent of those infected by the virus will become seriously ill.

"It is important to keep in mind that most people that get exposed to West Nile do not become ill," said Bassi. "Only about 20 percent of patients that are exposed will be sick with flu-like symptoms."

So far there are three confirmed cases of the West Nile Virus in San Bernardino County and two in Riverside County. Health experts are calling this year's outbreak one of the worst since 1999, when the virus first appeared in the U.S.

Karen Smith says her father most likely contracted the disease two weeks ago at his Ontario home.

"There was no standing water around my parents' home and that's where it happened," said Smith.

Standing water should be eliminated in and around the home. Other preventive measures to reduce exposure to West Nile Virus include avoiding hours of dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, and applying mosquito repellent with DEET.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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