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10-21-02: Mercer County has first human cases of West Nile
The Daily Standard
    The Ohio Department of Health has confirmed Mercer County's first human case of West Nile virus, and The Daily Standard has learned that a Coldwater man has become the second confirmed case.
    According to the state health departmentıs Web site, one case of West Nile was confirmed in the county on Oct. 11.
    Since the state's first confirmed cases on Aug. 14, there have been 371 cases were humans tested positive for the virus, according to information on the health department's Website at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. That includes four cases in Auglaize County, two in Darke county, two in Van Wert County and one in Mercer County.
    The 37-year-old Coldwater man received notice of a positive test result from his doctor on Thursday.
    The man and Minster woman diagnosed with the virus and interviewed by The Daily Standard Friday, both asked that their names not be used.
    West Nile virus is a disease carried by birds and transmitted to humans
and horses by mosquitoes. The virus is suspected to have originated in Africa and was contained to the eastern hemisphere, until an outbreak in New York City in the late 1990's that left several elderly victims dead. Now the virus has shown up in human cases in 37 states and Washington D.C.
    The disease, caused by a bite from an infected mosquito, can cause death from brain swelling in most serious cases. Most people who are infected experience only flu-like symptoms, health officials say.
    Only a small percentage of people bitten by infected mosquitoes become sick, health officials have said.
    The Coldwater man had two weeks of flu-like symptoms. A doctor told him it was probably just a virus, he said. He continued to go to work, "feeling crappy and sore all day," he said. After a rash emerged, he revisited a doctor and had blood drawn to be tested. After more than a week, he received the call Thursday that he had tested positive.
    He has since recovered, except for remnants of the rash and occasional bouts of fatigue, where he says it feels like he's "just not together."
    He suspects he was bitten by a mosquito while working outside in Chickasaw three weeks ago.
    It has been more than six weeks that a 66-year-old Minster woman has been fighting the virus. She also experienced flu-like  symptoms: She was tired, had headaches, body aches, a slight fever and lost her appetite.
    A doctor told her she had a virus (like the common cold) and tole her to stay off her feet. Later she developed rashes and her muscle pain was so intense she had trouble sleeping. Finally when she was hospitalized for
dehydration, doctors drew blood and had it sent to a state laboratory for
testing. She was the first case diagnosed in Auglaize County.
    She said she also has talked to two diagnosed women, one in Darke County and the other in Mercer County, and learned that each person's reaction to the infection has been different. Her fever was relatively low and only lasted three days, but her muscle pain was severe. The Darke County woman's fever was higher and lasted longer.
    Six weeks later, the Minster woman said she still feels the effects, now
only in a peculiar sense of tiredness, similar to that of the Coldwater man.
    "That feeling of tired, it's just a really different thing," she said, calling it different from being tired from lack of sleep and different from body fatigue.
    The Coldwater man said the tired feeling makes him come home from work and just sit down, with no motivation.
    More information on West Nile virus, including a daily-updated Ohio human cases list can be found at the state health department's Web site at www.odh.state.oh.us


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