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West Nile Virus survivor stresses seriousness as mosquito season looms

Prior to 2009, Sean Lemoine says he knew nothing about West Nile Virus. A year later he was re-learning how to walk a...

Posted: Apr 5, 2018 4:08 AM
Updated: Apr 5, 2018 4:08 AM

Prior to 2009, Sean Lemoine says he knew nothing about West Nile Virus. A year later he was re-learning how to walk after contracting it.

Lemoine, a healthy 36-year-old at the time, was bitten by a mosquito while working in his yard. A few days later he had a fever, went to a doctor, and was told it was some sort of virus but nothing to worry about.

That all changed very quickly, and as part of the Dallas County Health and Human Services department's annual West Nile Virus awareness campaign kickoff, he recounted his story as a warning to others.

"About four or five days after [the fever started] my vision started to black out," says Lemoine. "I started to throw up. I started to fall down because my balance was off.

"I had developed neuroinvasive West Nile Virus. I had developed encephalitis and meningitis."

Things only got worse from there.

"My wife took me to the emergency room. I woke up three weeks later in the intensive care unit, unable to move. I had been put on a ventilator so I [had a tracheotomy], so I couldn't talk. The pain was excruciating. It's like someone running a blow torch over your body."

Lemoine would spend the next two months in a short-term care unit recovering from multiple blood infections, then spend three months re-learning how to swallow, still on a ventilator, then spend six more months re-learning how to walk, which doctors were not certain he'd be able to do.

He was out of work for a total of 18 months, and even though he's mostly recovered there is permanent neurological damage which causes him to struggle with walking and talking, and his immune system is now compromised, leaving him seriously vulnerable to illnesses like the flu.

"I think we take for granted, 'It's just a mosquito bite,'" said DCHHS commissioner John Wiley Price. "Ladies and gentlemen, it is deadly serious."

Here are some tips from DCHHS to help prevent being bitten during mosquito season, which starts ramping up in April and lasts through November:

DEET - Whenever you're outside, use insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

DRESS - Wear long, loose, and light-colored clothing outside.

DRAIN - Remove all areas of standing water in and around your home. Change water in wading pools, pet dishes, and birdbaths several times a week.

DUSK & DAWN - Stay indoors during dusk and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active.

"It's an ounce of prevention vs. a pound of cure," says Lemoine. "I assure you, nobody wants to go through what I did."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30900

Reported Deaths: 1111
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds249840
DeSoto159416
Madison130034
Jones112449
Neshoba98871
Rankin93412
Harrison91211
Lauderdale90979
Forrest86942
Scott77115
Jackson62216
Copiah60215
Washington5849
Leake57819
Holmes55341
Lee54718
Wayne54513
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51518
Yazoo5096
Leflore48751
Grenada4835
Lowndes48313
Lincoln46034
Lamar4587
Pike43112
Monroe40130
Lafayette3914
Sunflower3727
Attala36023
Covington3565
Panola3506
Newton3399
Bolivar33414
Simpson3173
Adams31118
Pontotoc2866
Tate28310
Marion28111
Chickasaw27718
Claiborne27410
Noxubee2638
Jasper2626
Winston2616
Pearl River25432
Clay25010
Marshall2323
Smith21811
Clarke20724
Union2079
Coahoma2016
Walthall1995
Kemper17914
Lawrence1772
Yalobusha1707
Carroll16511
Humphreys1479
Tallahatchie1364
Itawamba1358
Montgomery1322
Calhoun1304
Tippah13011
Hancock12813
Webster12710
Jefferson Davis1114
Prentiss1083
Jefferson1073
Greene1058
Tunica1003
Wilkinson949
Amite912
George883
Tishomingo801
Quitman760
Choctaw744
Alcorn692
Perry664
Stone651
Franklin452
Sharkey370
Benton360
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 44375

Reported Deaths: 984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5221152
Montgomery4127103
Mobile4080134
Tuscaloosa228842
Marshall171110
Madison14307
Lee138437
Shelby128423
Morgan11025
Walker93924
Elmore92514
Franklin89514
Dallas8809
Baldwin8649
Etowah73913
DeKalb7195
Butler63328
Chambers62927
Autauga60712
Tallapoosa59169
Russell5520
Unassigned50323
Houston4964
Limestone4950
Lauderdale4906
Lowndes47221
Cullman4524
Pike4295
Colbert3956
St. Clair3822
Coffee3772
Bullock36910
Covington3587
Calhoun3545
Escambia3506
Barbour3492
Hale31121
Talladega3097
Marengo30211
Wilcox2918
Dale2880
Sumter28512
Clarke2746
Jackson2732
Winston2583
Chilton2462
Blount2351
Monroe2352
Pickens2356
Marion22413
Conecuh2097
Randolph2069
Choctaw19512
Macon1949
Bibb1901
Greene1868
Perry1771
Henry1343
Crenshaw1253
Washington1097
Lawrence1080
Cherokee977
Geneva800
Lamar771
Fayette701
Clay652
Coosa581
Cleburne361
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