Laurel County man talks about bout with West Nile; one of few diagnosed with disease in Kentucky

A Laurel County man has shared his story after contracting the West Nile Virus, which, though rare in Kentucky, has been more common nationwide this year than it has been since it was first discovered in 1999.

Kelly Curens spent three weeks at the University of Kentucky medical center, much of which was spent in an induced coma. He started feeling sick after a camping trip at Lake Cumberland, reports Phil Penderton for WKYT-TV. The illness started with a headache and graduated to feeling dizzy, which were symptoms to similar to ones he experienced a few years ago when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. When he went to the emergency room at St. Joseph London hospital, he had a seizure. 
Curens was one of the first in Kentucky to be positively diagnosed with the virus, which has affected more than 1,100 people nationwide this year. About half of the cases have been in Texas. Four horses have been diagnosed with the disease in Kentucky since Aug. 2. Craig Carter, director of the UK Veterminary Diagnostic Lab, said Kentucky is “still in the high-risk part of the season for West Nile infection.”

Curens has been treated and is feeling much better now. “From what I was told, I’m very lucky,” he said. “My blood sugar and blood pressure has always been good. Had I not been healthy I probably wouldn’t be here today.”

The elderly, infants and babies at the most risk, said Marion Pennington, regional epidemiologist at the Cumberland Valley District Health Department.

To protect oneself from the West Nile Virus, officials advise to:
• Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots and other containers that could collect water.
• Remove discarded tires from properties. They are the most common mosquito breeding grounds in the country.
• Drill holes in recycling containers.
• Drain gutters properly and clean gutters in the spring and fall.
• Turn over swimming pools and wheelbarrows when they aren’t in use.
• Change the water in birdbaths on a regular basis.
• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools and hot tubs.
• Make sure screens on windows don’t have holes in them.
• Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants when outside in the early morning and late evening. (Read more)

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