It's the largest outbreak of West Nile Virus in the history of the United States. With a bulk of the reported cases happening right here in the tri-state area.
Mike Vos is just your average Midwest truck driver from Lake Benton, Minnesota. So when he started feeling sick, he just thought he had a fever. But it was a fever that just wouldn't break.
"it lasted about three weeks, every bone in your body aches, it's like getting the flu, you get over it and then you relapse again." Said Vos.
Mike finally decided to get checked out by his local doctor, who diagnosed him with an ear infection and sent him home. Later that day Mike went to Brookings for a second opinion. He was severely dehydrated but doctors there still couldn't determine what was ailing him.
After a weekend at home, things continued to get worse so he checked into Avera McKennan and given a diagnosis of West Nile Virus.
"I'm an outside person that's all I do, never gave it a thought you'd catch something like this!" Said Vos.
Mike has been at Avera McKennan for five days, sleeping most of the time, just waiting for nature to take it's course.
Dr. Jawad Nazir, an infectious disease specialist, says Mike's symptoms are not uncommon. But in most cases of West Nile patients don't even know they've been infected.
"The disease can be severe, but in most patients it's not very severe and presents like a flu illness and some people may not notice it some may just have headaches and body aches." Said Dr. Nazir.
While the hospital treats Mike's fever and aches they also do daily neurology tests. These seemingly simple tests are done to check for signs of the more serious symptoms of West Nile, which can lead to Meningitis or Encephalitis. Dr. Nazir says even though these complications are rare Mike's age puts him at risk.
"People who are elderly, or I'll say more than 50 years of age or people with a lowered immune system they may have the severe form of the disease." Said Dr. Nazir.
With the drought there are less mosquitoes buzzing around, but the ones that are, are more likely to carry the virus. There have been fatalities reported and the virus is not to be taken lightly, but infection is easily prevented.
"By avoiding mosquito bites by using mosquito repellant, staying away from standing water, using screens at home." Said Dr. Nazir.
Right now the outbreak of West Nile is the largest ever seen in the United States. But with the prime mosquito season winding down, Dr. Nazir believes so will the number of West Nile cases.
"I think it will calm down, we just need to focus on preventative measures and not panic too much." Said Dr. Nazir.
While Mike is still feeling the sting of an unlucky mosquito bite, he's just focusing on one thing.
"Just get home, that and get back to work I guess!" Said Vos.
For more information on the West Nile Virus just call 877-AT AVERA