County's 2nd West Nile victim speaks
by Rory Doyle
Sep 27, 2012 | 2549 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Mississippi State Department of Health announced the second positive case of West Nile Virus in Bolivar County on Monday.

The news comes shortly after the first confirmed case from Sept. 10.

The MSDH has now reported 186 cases and four deaths across the state this year, compared to 52 cases and five deaths in 2011.

The MSDH only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public, with some lab verifications taking weeks to process.

Shelby resident Jewel Wells, 61, claims she is the second documented case in the county.

Wells began getting sick around Aug. 13 and knew something with her health wasn't right.

Flu-like symptoms, dizziness, vomiting and severe stomach pains required her to visit the emergency room.

"I told my husband, 'This is not normal — I'm 61-years-old — I know I'm not pregnant, so let's go to the hospital.'"

Wells said she was diagnosed with WNV while recovering in the Greenwood Leflore County Hospital, where she remained hospitalized until Sept. 1.

She had previously been tested at the North Sunflower Medical Center in Ruleville.

"I was scared, and it was tough not being mobile," said Wells. "I had a pain inside I just couldn’t get rid of. I wanted my daughter to get me out of there and take me somewhere else — it was very nerve-wracking."

Wells also said she lost nearly 60 pounds because of the virus.

"It makes you feel like your intestines are being twisted real bad. Everything you touch, you just start throwing up."

With her health now on the upside, Wells wants people to know despite the pain she experienced, the virus isn't always as scary as it's made out to be.

"People think this is a death sentence but it' not," she said. "Nobody ever speaks of people getting well.

"I was happy to see the paper report on the little girl in Cleveland going through West Nile and getting better. I know what she went through."

Wells said her recovery was accelerated because of the excellent care she received in Ruleville and Greenwood.

"I met some amazing doctors and they just didn’t give up on me."

The MSDH is currently working with city and county officials to boost mosquito control in their jurisdictions by providing map-specific information for spraying efforts.

Peak season for WNV is July, August, and September in Mississippi but mosquito-borne illnesses can occur year-round.

Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said everyone should remain cautious of the possibility of infection.

"Even though we're winding down to the end of September, this is still a very active time of year for us," said Byers. "This is still a time where we see a significant number of cases."

Mississippians should take appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses.

These precautions include: remove sources of standing water, especially after rainfall; install or repair screens on windows and doors; and if you will be in mosquito-prone areas, wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) during peak times from dusk until dawn, and use repellents containing DEET, or Environmental Protection Agency registered repellents for use on human skin.

For more information on WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses, a checklist to reduce the mosquito population in and around homes, and recommended mosquito repellents, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com/westnile.