SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The family of a Caddo Parish man reportedly in a coma because of the West Nile Virus wants to warn others to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
The warning comes from the family of 83-year-old Willie Sherman, just days after the Louisiana Department of Health confirmed 2 new cases of neuroinvasive (NID) form of the virus in Northwest Louisiana. State health officials say 2 more asymptomatic cases have also been reported.
According to the LA DHH report submitted to the Centers for Disease Control last week, the NID cases in NWLA are in Caddo and Bossier parishes.
Sherman's daughter Ann said he was taken to the hospital 2 weeks ago, after she came to check on him and found him still in bed at 9:30 in the morning.
"When I arrived here in his home, he was still in bed, he was somewhat delirious, or not delirious, but he was not comprehending," said Ann Sherman, daughter of Willie Sherman.
They took him to the hospital.
Doctors did several tests on him, but they all came back negative.
"They said they could not treat him when they didn't know what was going on with him. But when they did the final two tests, that's when it came back that it was the West Nile Virus," said Ann Sherman.
On Saturday, he slipped into a coma. Now, his family wants to warn others about the dangers of the virus.
Less than one percent of people bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus will develop the NID, the most serious form of the West Nile Virus. It involves the inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissue.
Ann Sherman's sister Brenda Banks said doctors have told their family her father has a 50/50 chance of survival.
Caddo Parish Mosquito Control has been monitoring the virus among samples taken from mosquitoes around the parish, and while they have been finding carriers of the virus, the frequency of WNV-positive tests is now dropping.
"Couple of weeks ago we had a little bit higher number, but the last time we've had our mosquitoes tested, the numbers started going down. West Nile runs, you know for the last 13 years we noticed it starts in July, it will peak in the middle of August, and luckily for us it starts coming down at this time, about September and bottoms out," said Bryan Glascock, the manager of Caddo Parish Mosquito Control.
Spraying for mosquitoes began in early April 1 and will continue through the end of October.
Willie Sherman's family isn't taking any chances, noting that he was bitten while doing something he enjoys every evening, sitting outside with his dog on the front porch.
Now, they are extremely careful while going outside, and want other families to do the same.
"I have two bottles of mosquito repellent now. I have a 3-year-old grandson and we make sure that we all - we spray before we go out now," said Banks.
People most at risk for developing severe disease are those 65 and over and those with already compromised immune systems, but everyone is at risk for infection.
So far in 2015, the LA DHH says there have been 19 NID cases reported statewide, 2 cases of West Nile Fever and 11 asymptomatic cases.