Patients either improve or in hospital before West Nile confirmed
Nevada Appeal News Service
It took almost a week for laboratory tests to confirm that Douglas County resident Steve Chappell had contracted a case of West Nile virus, but by that time he was recovering.
Tests for Gardnerville resident Megan Most, a 34-year-old single mother who has the more serious form of the disease, provided the diagnosis only after she had been admitted to Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center with more serious complications, including meningitis, according to her friend, Tina Alaniz.
Calls to Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, two laboratories handling these blood tests locally, offered little explanation for the lag. A LabCorp official said the samples are sent to a subsidiary in Minnetonka, Minn.
Martha Framsted, spokeswoman for the Nevada Division of Health, said her department has also been experiencing lag times on the results for these tests.
“It’s not unusual,” she said. “But we also know that the recommended care for West Nile is supportive – fluids and rest.”
Debbie Chappell, wife of West Nile patient Steve, said fluid intake was the most important factor in easing her husband’s symptoms.
“We consulted a physician who said I should keep him hydrated, and he improved, even the headaches,” she said. “Then he felt like eating something.”
Steve Chappell had fever, fatigue and headaches – all textbook symptoms of West Nile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., but did not get the more severe forms of the disease, West Nile encephalitis, meningitis or the rarest form, poliomyelitis.
“I feel fortunate considering what other people have been through,” he said. “Very fortunate.”
Chappell said he doesn’t remember getting bitten at any point this summer by a lot of mosquitoes.
“There are 50,000 people in Douglas County,” he said. “I never thought the odds were very strong that I’d get it, but I guess it happens.”
A general manager for a Carson City manufacturer, USC Spirit, a company that makes poles for vaulting, Chappell said the disease started with fatigue while he was at work on July 31.
More fatigue and loss of appetite followed and the next day the fevers started. The symptoms had not subsided by Wednesday so he sought medical advice. His wife, Debbie, suggested testing for West Nile, Steve Chappell said.
“I saw a nurse practitioner,” he said. “She checked me out, but all my vital signs were normal. They didn’t come to any conclusions, but took some blood for tests and sent me home with antibiotics.”
The following Friday, just five days after his first symptoms, he was seen at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center’s emergency room.
“They put me through the same series of tests and sent me home with strict instructions,” he said. “If there was no change, I should come back to the hospital for admission.”
West Nile, was not diagnosed.
Debbie Chappell saw steady improvement for the next couple of days and by Tuesday, he was able to get up and shower, she said.
“He was getting ready to go to the office and check his messages when the first urgent care called and said he was positive for West Nile,” she said.
After fighting the effects of West Nile Virus for about three weeks, he is on the mend with no serious complications.
“We got lucky,” Debbie Chappell said.