SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) – Nearly three years ago, Chris Kielman was doing what every South Dakota does in the summer, enjoying the outdoors.
“I specifically remember one night, when I think back to it very, very buggy. I got bit a bunch of times by mosquitoes,” Kielman said.
After that evening everything changed for him after a misdiagnosis of Swine Flu. Nearly five days after developing flu-like symptoms, Kielman was unable to move. He attempted to get out of bed one morning and collapsed.
Kielman was rushed to the ER and received the diagnosis of West Nile Neuroinvasive disease, which infects the brain and spinal cord area.
“I ended up five days in the hospital tremendous pain, headaches,” he said. “Lost my hearing in my left ear completely was told it may not come back. Fortunately, after about two months it did. And that all is neurologic and that’s the scary thing is that this isn’t physical, this is a neurologic thing that affects you, and you have no control. You’re basically along for the ride.”
Now, years later, Kielman still feels the effects of the virus. He says he is not quite at 100% and even gets tired relatively easy at times.
This year there is some good news, so far this summer we’ve seen lower temperatures which could help decrease the number of West Nile cases.
“We do have a prediction model that we run based off of temperature that’s predicted for the rest of the summer,” Dr. Joshua Clayton, South Dakota state epidemiologist, said. “And so, that predicted number puts us at 62 potential West Nile cases for the coming year.”
But, that doesn’t mean to put the bug spray down, make sure always to protect yourself if you head outdoors.
People who are at high risk for developing the virus are those who are individuals over 50, pregnant women, organ transplant patients, individuals with cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease, and those with a history of alcohol abuse. People with severe or unusual headaches should see their physicians.
If you do develop flu-like symptoms after getting bit, be sure to visit with your doctor.