Aug. 21, 2006

West Nile virus still around

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Dassel man Jeremy Greiner couldn’t believe how one little bug could do so much damage when three years ago he was infected with the West Nile Virus.

Because the virus was so uncommon at the time, doctors were unsure of Greiner’s rash and flu-like symptoms in the summer of 2003.

After he and his wife Corrine did some research, they realized the virus symptoms were exactly what Greiner had.

He informed the doctors and a test was done that confirmed Greiner was infected with the West Nile Virus.

Greiner was finally back to his normal self and working again at Big Tyme Collision after a month.

Symptoms can occur between three to 15 days after being infected and can result in headache, or in Greiner’s case a migraine, high fever, rash, muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, convulsions, paralysis and coma.

Greiner was 27 years old at the time, “I can understand how older people can have an even harder time with this,” he said.

With the virus attacking his nervous and immune systems, it took Greiner a month to recover, he said.

“It took such a toll on me,” Greiner said.

“It’s hard to believe a little bug can do something like that,” Greiner said.

Even with cooler weather, residents of Western and Central Minnesota should take all precautions for West Nile Virus.

With 22 cases this year and two deaths, the Minnesota Department of Health are informing people that the virus is showing up earlier than in previous years.

With onsets in July, even the combination of the lack of rain and warm whether accelerates the virus according to Melissa Kemperman, vector-borne disease and mosquitoes carrying the virus can better withstand these conditions.

Because of the relatively low number of other pest mosquitoes that don’t carry the virus with the hot and dry weather, people aren’t being bitten as often. Mosquitoes that carry the virus “thrive in this type of weather,” according to a release from the Minnesota Department of Health.

The virus has been more prevalent in open agricultural areas in Western and Southwestern Minnesota into Central Minnesota, Kemperman explained.

Precautions such as bug spray and wearing long sleeves and pants should be taken especially around dawn and dusk and with people or the age of 50, according to Kemperman.

Even though August is the peak month, the risk of the disease can occur until the temperature freezes, according to Kemperman.

She also stated that approximately one of 150 cases will develop encephalitis which is a more severe form and can result in hospitalization.

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