West Nile Virus survivor stresses seriousness as mosquito season looms

Prior to 2009, Sean Lemoine says he knew nothing about West Nile Virus. A year later he was re-learning how to walk a...

Posted: Apr 5, 2018 5:08 AM
Updated: Apr 5, 2018 5:08 AM

Prior to 2009, Sean Lemoine says he knew nothing about West Nile Virus. A year later he was re-learning how to walk after contracting it.

Lemoine, a healthy 36-year-old at the time, was bitten by a mosquito while working in his yard. A few days later he had a fever, went to a doctor, and was told it was some sort of virus but nothing to worry about.

That all changed very quickly, and as part of the Dallas County Health and Human Services department's annual West Nile Virus awareness campaign kickoff, he recounted his story as a warning to others.

"About four or five days after [the fever started] my vision started to black out," says Lemoine. "I started to throw up. I started to fall down because my balance was off.

"I had developed neuroinvasive West Nile Virus. I had developed encephalitis and meningitis."

Things only got worse from there.

"My wife took me to the emergency room. I woke up three weeks later in the intensive care unit, unable to move. I had been put on a ventilator so I [had a tracheotomy], so I couldn't talk. The pain was excruciating. It's like someone running a blow torch over your body."

Lemoine would spend the next two months in a short-term care unit recovering from multiple blood infections, then spend three months re-learning how to swallow, still on a ventilator, then spend six more months re-learning how to walk, which doctors were not certain he'd be able to do.

He was out of work for a total of 18 months, and even though he's mostly recovered there is permanent neurological damage which causes him to struggle with walking and talking, and his immune system is now compromised, leaving him seriously vulnerable to illnesses like the flu.

"I think we take for granted, 'It's just a mosquito bite,'" said DCHHS commissioner John Wiley Price. "Ladies and gentlemen, it is deadly serious."

Here are some tips from DCHHS to help prevent being bitten during mosquito season, which starts ramping up in April and lasts through November:

DEET - Whenever you're outside, use insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

DRESS - Wear long, loose, and light-colored clothing outside.

DRAIN - Remove all areas of standing water in and around your home. Change water in wading pools, pet dishes, and birdbaths several times a week.

DUSK & DAWN - Stay indoors during dusk and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active.

"It's an ounce of prevention vs. a pound of cure," says Lemoine. "I assure you, nobody wants to go through what I did."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 667262

Reported Deaths: 12737
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion913541660
Lake48729891
Allen36175646
Hamilton32489398
St. Joseph30361514
Elkhart25536420
Vanderburgh21343382
Tippecanoe20240205
Johnson16485363
Porter16077281
Hendricks15955302
Clark12079182
Madison11810323
Vigo11699234
Monroe10440164
Delaware9899179
LaPorte9838201
Howard9127203
Kosciusko8600111
Bartholomew7531147
Hancock7471134
Warrick7456153
Floyd7269173
Wayne6661192
Grant6465158
Boone618691
Morgan6135129
Dubois5942112
Dearborn551570
Cass5489100
Marshall5456105
Henry544395
Noble513878
Jackson465967
Shelby463591
Lawrence4197113
Gibson405585
Harrison404065
Clinton397653
Montgomery391984
DeKalb388278
Miami358463
Knox357886
Whitley352438
Huntington350877
Steuben340455
Putnam334660
Wabash333976
Ripley328062
Adams326349
Jasper319343
White298553
Jefferson296574
Daviess286196
Fayette272756
Decatur271688
Greene262680
Posey261732
Wells259175
Scott252150
LaGrange242670
Clay241644
Randolph226577
Spencer219630
Jennings216944
Washington213327
Sullivan203839
Fountain202842
Starke190051
Owen184254
Fulton179937
Jay178828
Carroll176919
Perry174136
Orange171451
Rush165722
Vermillion161543
Franklin160135
Tipton150041
Parke140216
Pike128633
Blackford120727
Pulaski107844
Newton96832
Brown95340
Crawford92613
Benton92513
Martin80314
Warren76014
Switzerland7568
Union67510
Ohio54211
Unassigned0427

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 978471

Reported Deaths: 17501
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1130371251
Cuyahoga969331881
Hamilton739231067
Montgomery47536923
Summit40720831
Butler35859531
Lucas35802720
Stark29602826
Warren22593275
Lorain22218424
Mahoning19586551
Lake18564332
Clermont18541205
Delaware16614121
Licking15096194
Fairfield14653188
Trumbull14437424
Greene13664221
Medina13531237
Clark12394256
Wood11670170
Portage11140172
Allen10822216
Richland10376188
Miami10065194
Muskingum8244117
Columbiana8174210
Pickaway8096111
Tuscarawas8083232
Marion8021127
Wayne7939199
Erie6972146
Ross6178132
Geauga6118142
Hancock6032121
Scioto600988
Ashtabula6002154
Lawrence527886
Union516741
Darke5052116
Belmont5000137
Huron4862108
Jefferson4843137
Sandusky4800112
Washington475596
Seneca4738111
Athens466449
Mercer459781
Auglaize456682
Shelby442679
Knox4056105
Putnam400593
Madison395755
Fulton383461
Ashland383083
Brown375252
Defiance374088
Crawford360198
Logan357673
Preble354187
Clinton342755
Highland328551
Ottawa325471
Williams303568
Jackson292046
Champaign291149
Guernsey288945
Perry271348
Fayette270143
Morrow261637
Henry247961
Hardin247359
Holmes244497
Coshocton241156
Van Wert230357
Gallia223938
Adams218339
Pike217328
Wyandot212450
Hocking195154
Carroll182143
Paulding161134
Meigs136031
Noble129233
Monroe117637
Morgan102220
Harrison100731
Vinton76713
Unassigned00
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