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Beyond Statistics: 2 Faces of West Nile Virus

Thousands Now Live With West Nile Virus Infection. Here, 2 Share Their Stories

Rob Wagner Jr. continued...

Weeks later, in late August, many of the symptoms remain. "I just get up achy. My joints and everything. I get real tired real fast.''

His appetite lagged so much he lost 35 pounds.

As of late August, Wagner's still not back at work. He's still on pain medicine and the headaches still occur.

Even so, he takes hope in the positive: the bacterial meningitis diagnosis was incorrect.

He has an appointment next week to see a new doctor whom he hopes will describe what he can expect. He hopes to return to work soon.

He reminds his son, 11, who lives nearby with his mother, that the mosquitoes love him too and to wear repellent.

At this point, he would be happy to have some semblance of a normal life back. "I just want to get my strength back," he says.

Don R. Read, MD

Don R Read MDDon R. Read, MD, a Dallas surgeon, was taking an evening walk with his wife, Roberta, in July 2005 when they got bitten by swarms of mosquitoes.

The evening walk had become a ritual, says Read, who was 63 at the time. "My wife's bone density was low, and her gynecologist told her to do some weight-bearing exercises, so we'd go out walking."

A few days later, he was performing an abdominal surgery and got more tired than usual.

"When I finished, I was unusually tired and went home and went to bed," he says.

It wasn't typical for the hard-driving surgeon, who was accustomed to performing surgery all day long and then joining family members for social activities.

The next day was no better. "I felt as bad when I got up [as when he had gone to sleep]," he says.

Read isn't a guy who gets sick, he says. "I'd missed four days of work in 27 years."

He went to work, thinking he would shake it off. He didn't.

Within a few days, he was sleeping 20 hours a day.

His wife begged him to go to the hospital, but one of their daughters had a music recital in Indiana, and he didn't want to miss it.

Off they flew, and they planned a reception for her afterward. Read slept all day, went to the recital, made it through 30 minutes of the reception, and collapsed into bed.

Then both of his legs became paralyzed. It was time to go to the hospital.

His arms were affected, too. "I could barely move my arms and I couldn't move my legs at all," he says.

At the hospital in Indiana, they placed him in the intensive care unit and gave him the only available treatments -- supportive care and treating of the symptoms, including strong pain medicines.

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