Local News

Wake County Man Talks About Contracting West Nile Virus

Posted August 27, 2003 4:57 a.m. EDT

— A Wake County man is recovering from West Nile virus. He is North Carolina's third reported human case of the mosquito-borne illness this year.

Charles Williams, 53, said he contracted the virus three weeks ago. As a forester, Williams said he always wears long sleeves and mosquito repellant at work, but he did not think he needed it in his driveway while he was unpacking his car.

"I'd say it took two, two-and-a-half hours to unload it in the middle of the day," he said.

Health officials say Williams is proof that it does not take a lot of time or bites to get West Nile.

"He remembers five or six mosquito bites as he unloaded his car and was ill within four days of that," Wake County Health Director Gibbie Harris said.

This Labor Day weekend, health officials are urging people to use DEET-based repellants at all times.

"We want people to live their lives and we want them to enjoy our beautiful state, but we want them to stay healthy and stay well and that's our goal," said State Health Director Dr. Leah Devlin.

Williams, who was hospitalized with inflammation of the brain, its lining and the spinal cord, said he is slowly recovering at home, and he hopes people will realize that the risk of West Nile is real.

"I think everyone's been bitten by a mosquito, but it just takes one," he said.

Warning posters will be posted at all parks and recreation areas through the weekend.

One central North Carolina man died from West Nile virus earlier this year. The other victim had a less serious form of the disease, called West Nile fever, and has recovered.

State health officials also identified one human case of Eastern equine encephalitis in a Scotland County child who remains hospitalized in critical condition.

EEE is a rare viral disease transmitted by some kinds of mosquitoes. It attacks the central nervous system, causes inflammation of the brain and can be fatal to animals and humans. Wild birds serve as natural hosts for the virus. Mosquitoes bite the birds and then can transmit the virus to humans and animals.

West Nile virus is spread the same way as EEE.