Health experts say 2012 is on track to be the worst year ever for west nile virus, the Centers for Disease Control reports new cases jumped 25% over the last week with nearly 2,000 cases nationwide and almost 90 deaths. Two people died in North Carolina with west nile, one here in eastern carolina.
With the new information out from health officials we revisited the wife of a Wayne County man killed by west nile Thursday.
Betty West says it's still hard for her to believe something as small as a mosquito could take the life of her husband of 65 years and it scares her to hear more people are dying from the same virus.
Betty says her husband Howard spent most of his time during the summer outside working in his garden. That's where she believes he was bitten by the mosquito that ultimately killed him. Howard West was infected by west nile virus and died at a hospital shortly after becoming sick. He was 84 years old. According to CDC, 47 other states have reported west nile virus infections and 86 more people have died from it.
"I fear an epidemic of any kind that can be so devastating to man kind. You feel so helpless when things are spreading and you don't know how to stop it," said West.
The symptoms in serious cases of west nile include: high fever, headache, neck stiffness, and stupor. Other symptoms include disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss and even coma or paralysis. The most common source of protection is bug spray that contains deet.
Many people, as much as 80 percent, do not develop symptoms with west nile and recover before they even know they had it.