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The North Bend Eagle


West Nile started from bite in NB area

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 10/13/10

Kevin Dubbs is the fire chief of the North Bend Fire Department. The job carries many duties with many hazards. But recently Dubbs faced a hazard he didn’t expect while on duty.

Dubbs and other EMT’s were providing coverage for the first North Bend Central home football game on Sept. 3. As usual, the rescue squad was parked at the west end of the field.

“I was eaten up by mosquitoes” Dubbs, 46, said.

A few days later Dubbs went to a party at a friend’s house in the country just north of North Bend and again provided a feast for the mosquitoes. Dubbs didn’t think anything of it. He didn’t have any repellent on and usually didn’t. It was just a little mosquito bite, after all.

On Sept. 13 Dubbs was at a North Bend Fire Department meeting and noticed red dots all over. Some of the nurses in the group thought it may have been hives, but Dubbs felt okay so he didn’t think anything of it.

As the week went on he began feeling weak. By Saturday, Sept. 18, Dubbs had chills, felt weak, had a headache and aching joints “that just wouldn’t go away.”

On Monday he went to the doctor, but was told it was viral and to treat the symptoms with over-the-counter pain relievers.

He tried to go to work at Hormel’s on Tuesday but was sent home. He was too weak to work.

On the 22nd, Wednesday, he felt so bad he went to the emergency room at Fremont Area Medical Center. There they did blood test, a spinal tap, gave him intravenous antibiotics. He took off the rest of the week from work.

“I mostly slept,” Dubbs said.

Finally on the 27th, the test for West Nile came back positive.

On the 28th Dubbs saw his doctor and was again given IV antibiotics and told to continue with bed rest. He was weighted and had lost 15 pounds from two weeks earlier when he had seen the doctor for a cholesterol check.

On Oct. 1 Dubbs had another check up with the doctor and finally felt like he was over the hump. He started feeling a little better but continued to stay inside and rest.

Finally, on Oct. 7 Dubbs felt up to going outside and running some errands. Though still weak, he feels like he is on the mend and was back at work the on the 11th.

“All I know is I don’t recommend it (West Nile) to anyone,” Dubbs said.

West Nile is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people who are infected by a mosquito have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms. Less than one out of 150 people who get bitten by an infected mosquito will get seriously ill. However, people over 50 and those with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to the disease and are more likely to experience serious consequences.

West Nile fever includes flu-like symptoms such as fever and muscle weakness. Symptoms of the more serious West Nile encephalitis include inflammation of the brain, disorientation, convulsions and paralysis.

Precautions recommended by the Nebraska department of Health and Human Services include:

• Apply mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535;
• Wear long-sleeved shirt, pants and socks;
• Avoid going out at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active; and
• Eliminate standing water to reduce mosquito breeding sites.

The city of North Bend does not spray for mosquitoes on a regular basis. According to City Clerk Theresa Busse, a professional is hired to spray the park for insects at Old Settlers. Otherwise it is up to individuals to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

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