Wise County’s first West Nile case of the year was a 38-year-old Boyd man.
James Miller, who lives about three miles south of Boyd near Keeter Road, said he has recovered from his illness, but he wants people to be aware of the danger and take the necessary precautions.
“It’s like the flu on steroids,” Miller said of his illness.
He was diagnosed with the more severe infection of West Nile virus, neuroinvasive disease. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, only one in 150 people infected with West Nile virus will develop the more severe form of the disease. The milder form is known as West Nile fever.
“I broke out in a rash from head to toe,” Miller said. “I had strep throat the week before, and the doctors thought it was a reaction to the amoxicillin. … That next day I got really sick. I vomited for three weeks straight. I lost 50 pounds. I had a lot of neck pain and back pain from it.”
He doesn’t remember when he got bit by the mosquito that infected him with West Nile. That’s not uncommon with West Nile victims as the incubation period for the virus in humans is three to 14 days.
He now takes precautions when leaving the house.
“Every time I go out, I spray on the bug repellent, and when we get home, I make sure the kids go straight in the house,” he said.
The Texas Department of State Health Services recommends the following practices, known as the “four Ds” to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes:
1. Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
2. Dress in long sleeves and long pants when you are outside.
3. Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
4. Drain standing water where mosquitoes breed. Common breeding sites include old tires, flowerpots and clogged drain gutters.
As of Wednesday, the state reported that 509 human cases of West Nile have been confirmed this year. Twenty deaths have been caused by West Nile, with half of those in Dallas County.
In response to the high number of cases of West Nile, a regional phone bank was set up Thursday to address general West Nile questions from the public. Operators will provide responses 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (817) 264-4612.