Friday, August 8, 2008

Blaine County resident picks up West Nile

Hailey resident was at Anderson Reservoir

Express Staff Writer

A Blaine County man apparently contracted West Nile virus, through mosquito bites, after a weekend at Anderson Reservoir near Pine.

John Holmes, 50, of Hailey, said he'd taken his kids in the family's motor home to the reservoir in July.

"The mosquitoes were really bad," he said. "A few days later I started getting really sick, dizzy, nauseous, like the worst hangover times 20, and achy all over. I was scared enough to go to the doc."

Dr. Frank Batcha at St. Luke's Family Medicine in Hailey gave him a blood test that came back positive for West Nile.

Batcha was unavailable for comment by press time Thursday.

The virus is spread by the bites of mosquitoes that are infected when they feed on infected birds.

There is no way to treat it.

"It has to run its course but it makes you sick," Holmes said. "They can treat nausea and aches. It was a relief to know I wasn't dying. I had every symptom they got. Expensive tests too."

Holmes, who is semi-retired now, is not able to work.

For those with immune deficiency diseases, the elderly or the very young, West Nile Virus can lead to encephalitis or meningitis, both of which can be fatal.

Officials at South Central Public Health District have not received a report verifying this case. Batcha did not return calls regarding the case.

South Central recently investigated three reports of tick-borne infections: two reports of Lyme disease and one unconfirmed case of ehrlichiosis.

As well, a Blaine County woman in her 40s was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever last week. These are the first cases of tick-borne illnesses reported in South Central Public Health District's eight-county area in 2008.

Initial symptoms may include fever, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, lack of appetite, severe headache, abdominal pain, joint pain, and diarrhea. Persons with Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease may develop a rash at the site of the bite or elsewhere, including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The Lyme disease rash is more localized and appears in a circular fashion, often with a clear area in the center.

Persons experiencing symptoms of a tick-borne infection should see their health care provider.

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