Brandon man discusses life after having West Nile virus

 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) – Nearly three years ago, Chris Kielman was doing what every South Dakota does in the summer, enjoying the outdoors.

Mosquito feeding on a human host, Photo Date: January 23, 2016 / Cropped Photo: Day Donaldson / CC BY 2.0 / (MGN)

“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.

West Nile virus detected across Michigan in mosquitoes, goose

mosquito_westnile.jpg

Body bent towards the skin surface, this image depicts a lateral view of a feeding female Anopheles merus mosquito. This specimen had landed on a human hand, and was in the process of obtaining its blood meal through its sharp, needle-like labrum, which it had inserted into its human host. (Courtesy of CDC/ James Gathany)

 

Mosquitoes collected in Saginaw and Oakland counties, as well as a Canada goose from Kalamazoo County, have all tested positive recently for West Nile virus, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

This is the first sign of the virus in 2019, officials said.

“It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness, so take extra care during peak mosquito-biting hours, which are dusk and dawn,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health, in a statement. “We urge Michiganders to take precautions such as using insect repellant wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors during those time periods.”

West Nile virus is a risk every year for Michigan residents, as it is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes who have bitten an infected bird.

The virus can cause illness three to 15 days after the mosquito bite. Adults age 60 and older are at the highest risk for West Nile — but anyone can get sick from the virus.

Symptoms of the virus include high fever, confusion, muscle weakness and a severe headache. In 2018 in Michigan there were nine deaths and 104 incidents of severe illness from the virus — which include meningitis and encephalitis.

In 2018 officials tested 4,142 mosquito pools; 159 of which tested positive for West Nile virus.

Officials are recommending people follow the following precautions to decrease their exposure to mosquitoes this summer:

  • Use insect repellent that is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has one of the following ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol, and 2-undecanone
  • Infants under 2 months of age should not use insect repellent and instead should wear clothes that cover their arms and legs, and their crib, stroller and baby carrier should be covered with a mosquito net
  • Wear socks, shoes, light-colored long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outside
  • Ensure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens; make repairs to tears or other openings
  • Use bed nets if your windows don’t have screens
  • Eliminate sources of standing water that could support mosquito breeding near your home at least once a week — like bird baths, abandoned swimming pools, wading pools and old tires