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.

Cases: 307332

Reported Deaths: 7095
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20757248
Hinds19869408
Harrison17475302
Rankin13307275
Jackson13095243
Madison9886210
Lee9854169
Jones8289160
Forrest7522146
Lauderdale7185237
Lowndes6261144
Lamar610284
Lafayette6026117
Washington5279132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4440103
Pearl River4418139
Warren4277118
Marshall4267100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4056132
Union403575
Neshoba3984176
Lincoln3869107
Hancock371985
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3177104
Scott310472
Yazoo304268
Alcorn297664
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265679
Wayne261341
Leake260973
Grenada254882
Covington254380
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237647
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182354
Stone179131
Clarke176676
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163130
Yalobusha158636
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125833
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite119941
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105332
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95126
Humphreys94332
Franklin81723
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518588

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753351487
Mobile37698798
Madison33829494
Tuscaloosa25245443
Montgomery23942565
Shelby23094238
Baldwin20617300
Lee15510165
Calhoun14277311
Morgan14137268
Etowah13660345
Marshall11952219
Houston10379278
Elmore9988200
Limestone9806147
Cullman9467188
St. Clair9422234
Lauderdale9208227
DeKalb8745181
Talladega8042171
Walker7087275
Jackson6753110
Autauga6715103
Blount6480135
Colbert6200130
Coffee5397112
Dale4766110
Russell428238
Franklin419882
Chilton4080109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3892146
Escambia387574
Dallas3526149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305475
Lawrence295295
Winston272272
Bibb256258
Marengo248561
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218675
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176741
Monroe171240
Washington163838
Macon154348
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58624
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