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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...

The pain was so bad the doctors put him on morphine.

The week he spent in the hospital was a nightmare, his sister, Pamela Vest, says. "A whole week, we couldn't even talk to him because he was so out of it."

"One morning he woke up crying," she says, "saying, 'What is wrong with me?' 'What is it?'"

When he improved some, he was released.

Then came the call from the Riverside County Department of Health. "It wasn't bacterial meningitis, it was West Nile virus," he says.

"I didn't know that much about it," he says. "I was still kind of out of it."

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.

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