Hutchinson A Hutchinson man who contracted the state's first reported case of West Nile this year is urging Kansans to take precautions against a disease that left him so ill he doesn't remember a four-day hospital stay.
Jimmie Casey, 45, is home from the hospital but said he still has almost no energy. He believes he caught the disease after being bitten by a mosquito in early June, when nearby Cow Creek was full and his basement had water in it.
At first, Casey thought he had the flu.
"But I was getting sicker and sicker," he said. "I was sleeping a lot and wanted to be left alone."
When a persistent fever reached 106 degrees, his wife, Tina, and 17-year-old daughter, Ashley, rushed him to Memorial Hospital in McPherson, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia.
But his doctor, Brian Billings of McPherson, said Casey's immune system didn't respond to treatment, so he began looking for other causes.
Tina Casey said her husband was delirious in the hospital and Jimmie Casey said he doesn't remember anything from his four-day stay there.
They were told he had West Nile on June 25. He didn't have the encephalitis symptoms common to the disease but he had pneumonia from an unrelated infection.
"What appears to be happening is a lot of people get more mild cases," Billings said. "People are developing an immunity, and apparently getting mild cases attributed to flu, without getting encephalitis."
On Friday, the Caseys were relaxing outside their home and said they plan to continue to spend time outdoors.
"We are outdoor people; we go to the lake and the speedway," Tina Casey said. "And we go to church and pray harder," Jimmie Casey added.
Last year, the state had 25 reported West Nile cases that resulted in three deaths.
The best protection against the disease is to use insect repellent with DEET or other active ingredients. The dangerous symptoms are bad headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to light and a high fever, Billings said. Anyone with those symptoms should see a doctor.