The Mississippi State Department of Health reported Thursday morning that there are now 12 cases of West Nile Virus in our state. Although, every case is serious, that number pales in comparison to the 247 cases in 2012. Still, you have to put a human face onto these figures to really know what this virus is capable of doing.
For the past five years, the lasting affects of West Nile have been overwhelming for the Courcelle family.
"You see it in the movies," Jennifer Courcelle said. "You don't ever think you are gonna have to see it in your husband."
Joe and Jennifer Courcelle, of Lumberton, have been married for 16 years, but in the summer of 2012 Joe didn't recognize his wife.
"He had a blank look on his face and he didn't know who I was," Jennifer said.
It all started in the summer of 2012. Joe said he was recovering from hernia surgery and had a fever one day. Fourteen days later he developed a bad rash on his chest and back. As a nurse, his wife Jennifer thought she knew what was wrong.
"It could have been an infection after surgery," Jennifer said.
The same day Joe and Jennifer noticed the rash, they took Joe to the hospital. By the time they made it to the hospital Joe was much worse.
"I was pretty much delirious...had to get a wheel chair to get me out of the car," Joe said.
He said he only remembers doctors starting the first round of tests.
"And I don't remember anything in between all of that," Joe said.
But his wife does. She said those first five days Joe spent in the ICU are seared into her memory.
"He just thrashed in the bed," Jennifer said. "He was in restraints. He didn't know who he was or where he was."
Still not knowing what was wrong, doctors were ready to send Joe home after 15 days, and Jennifer said that's how long it takes to get the West Nile results.
Joe said he found out the results the day he was discharged.
"The positive result showed up Jennifer said. I was like,'Oh, my God! Are you kidding me?! We have been through this because of a mosquito?!."
According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, there is no real treatment for West Nile Virus, only treating the long term affects. For Joe, he said he had to learn to walk again and receive speech therapy. He said he has short term memory loss, extreme fatigue and some hearing loss. But he said none of that keeps him down.
"Oh, I fight it everyday! I'm not a person that's gonna give up ever," Joe said.
Joe and Jennifer said what really helps them is the support group they are a part of. Dr. Art Leis of the Mississippi Methodist rehabilitation Center, who specializes in West Nile, comes down to the Live Well Center in Hattiesburg every few months to meet with patients of the support group. The next meeting will be August 25th.
For more information on West Nile and to learn how to protect yourself visit http://msdh.ms.gov/