West Nile virus sends Houston man to ICU for nearly a month

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For the past 27 days, Dawn Fitzgerald has been on a rollercoaster.

"It's stressful. I worry a lot about him," Dawn said.

Her husband John spent several days on a ventilator when the West Nile virus in his body crippled him.

"I went and checked on him and he couldn't move his arm. It was dead. He couldn't move it," Dawn said.

His fever was getting worse, so Dawn transported him to the hospital.

Doctors were puzzled since John was 53, fit and healthy. They began testing.

"In the process of elimination we did the West Nile test, which came back positive with spinal fluid and blood," Dr. Sarfraz Ali from Houston Methodist Hospital said.

John went into respiratory arrest and required a ventilator.

John is now one of six confirmed human cases of West Nile in Harris County.

On Thursday, a death was reported. The victim's identity in that case has not been released.

"It's sad that someone has died from the West Nile Virus. My job is to protect every resident in Harris County," Dr. Mustapha Debboun, the Director of Mosquito and Vector Control in Harris County, said.

Dr. Debboun took Eyewitness News to the labs where his staff is testing mosquitoes every minute.

Debboun said this year mosquitoes in more than 300 sites in the county have tested positive for West Nile. He says there were 1,286 sites in 2014.

"He can't believe that such a small bug or insect could do so much harm to a person," Dawn said.
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