A Middle Tennessee man has been unable to speak for 10 days, and it all could have started with a mosquito bite. That man is now hospitalized with West Nile virus, fighting for his life.
Marion Rogers is 82 years old but is quite active and an avid outdoorsman. He loves gardening and spends hours in his big Murfreesboro yard making things beautiful. But two weeks ago he was out there and something went wrong.
"I came over, and as active as he is, he had a very hard time even coming out of his chair," said his son, Guy Rogers.
His only other symptom was a low-grade fever. Nevertheless, he actually told his son he needed to be checked into the hospital.
"Days following that, he progressively got worse and worse, a high fever, chills, tremors," Guy Rogers said.
Now, the man hasn't been able to speak for 10 days and is being kept alive on a respirator.
"It's amazing how fast a little mosquito takes someone this healthy, and just lay them out," Guy Rogers said.
Only 20 percent of people bitten by a mosquito infected with West Nile have any symptoms at all, and even fewer suffer brain problems like Marion Rogers.
"One percent will have neurological symptoms. So, they'll have disorientation, convulsions, stiff neck, that sort of thing. And a small percentage of those might lead to death," said Tennessee Department of Health epidemiologist Dr. Abelardo Moncayo.
Marion Rogers is hanging on, and his son keeps his father updated on the prognosis.
"He's sitting there not being able to move. I'm sure, if he's conscious, he wonders what's going on. And I tell him every day, 'You're not going to believe this, but a little mosquito has caused this whole issue with you,'" Guy Rogers said.
Though cooler nights do slow down mosquito activity, it isn't until the first frost of the year that the threat of West Nile is over.
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