Teacher recovering from West Nile virus
August 26, 2005
DAYTON – About three weeks ago, Mark Gardner starting feeling sick. He had headaches, body aches, fever and fatigue.
When his fever spiked to 103.5 degrees, Gardner went to the doctor.
A battery of tests later, the Empire Elementary School physical education teacher was diagnosed with West Nile meningitis, an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord and a more severe form of West Nile virus.
“Right now I don’t have the energy to go back to school. That drives me nuts. I had just gotten my books and was starting to get read. Now I don’t have the energy to think about it,” Gardner said from his Dayton home. “It takes all I have just to walk down the hall.”
Gardner doesn’t appear to be among four other Nevadans reported by the Nevada Nevada State Health Division as being diagnosed this year with the viral infection.
West Nile virus was detected in Nevada in 2004 and has been reported in all counties except Lander and Esmeralda. The virus is not spread person to person and is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitos who fed on infected birds.
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“I was kind of relieved to know what was wrong finally. They were testing for this and that and they just didn’t know -that was stressful,” Gardner said.
He speculated he may have been contracted the illness while playing softball or golf, but he has no recollection of being bitten by a mosquito. The incubation period in humans can be from two to 15 days.
With no specific treatment for West Nile, the normally active father and husband just has to sweat it out.
“I’m feeling tons better,” he said Friday. “I’m hoping after one more week I’ll be able to go (to work).”
According to the Center for Disease Control, there were 4,156 reports of human infection in 44 states. Of these, about 3,000 were central nervous system disease cases, 300 of which were fatal.
In the U.S., West Nile virus cases are most prevalent in late summer and early autumn; in Nevada, mosquito season is typically April through October, according to Nevada Health Division.
Generally, the elderly and young are most susceptible to the severe and sometimes fatal forms of the disease – a sobering and eye-opening fact for Gardner, whose daughter Kendra is just 10 months old.
“I’m definitely glad it was me who got this,” he said. “I’m going to stock up on bug spray.”
Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.