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Mother speaking out after son diagnosed with severe case of West Nile virus

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A Weber County man is in the hospital with a severe case of West Nile Virus. His mother is now warning others about the dangers of the disease. (Photo: KUTV)

A Weber County man is in the hospital with a severe case of West Nile Virus. His mother is now warning others about the dangers of the disease.

“This is Ryan, just a healthy 37-year-old, and all of a sudden he’s in intensive care because of a mosquito bite,” said Gina Vodopich, holding a picture of her son.

Vodopich said her son, a couple weeks ago was healthy, grilling for his friends, working. Ryan then started complaining of headaches and neck aches. Then, she said, they found him sweating, trembling with a fever, and he was rushed to the hospital.

“Within a couple of hours he was in ICU. Within moments, he had a sepsis warning on the door saying that it was pretty severe,” she said.

Vodopich said he was diagnosed with neuroinvasive West Nile Virus. It's affected his nerve, blood and muscular systems, and he basically can’t walk, talk or focus.

Dr. Petronella Adomako, an infectious disease specialist at McKay-Dee Hospital, said most people who contract the disease won’t even know they have West Nile virus.

About 20 percent of people will get a headache, muscle aches, fever, or sometimes a rash. Only one percent of patients will get the severe nueroinvasive symptoms like Ryan has, but it’s usually those with compromised immune systems, or the elderly.

Right now, there're no treatments, cures or vaccinations for West Nile virus.

“There is not cure for West Nile at this time, because there is no medication, per se, to treat the virus itself," said Adomako. "So once an individual develops the infection, it’s more of supportive care."

Vodopich wants people to know what happened to her son could’ve been prevented,

“If he would’ve just done a 30-second spray with the appropriate mosquito repellent, he wouldn’t be in the position he is in right now,” she said.

She hopes everyone realizes it can happen to anyone, and she wants everyone to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites. Those can include removing standing water from around their homes, wearing clothes that cover arms and legs, especially at dawn and dusk, and wearing repellent with DEET.

Gina said Ryan has a long road to recovery, but because he’s young and strong, she’s hopeful. She just doesn’t want anyone to go through what her family is going through.

“It’s exhausting, it’s scary, because he had his whole life just getting planned — he just bought a new home, less than a year ago — now to know that he’s not going to be working for several months,” she said.

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