A threat most people associate with late spring and summer is on the rise again in our area.
Alabama has recorded at least eight West Nile virus cases this year. The two most recently reported cases are here in Montgomery, blocks from downtown.
Here's the next biggest headline: doctors say we're now in prime time for even more infections.
Like most men, when Greg McWhorter got a little feverish, he didn't go straight to the doctor. Then, the alarm sounded.
"I woke up one morning and I was covered in red spots from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet," he said.
After that, McWhorter was miserable for a solid two weeks.
"Everything on me hurt. headache, dizzy," he said.
Worse, his doctor didn't know what he had.
"They thought perhaps it was mono or Lyme Disease," McWhorter said.
Then, a couple days later, his young son got the same spots.
"That was one of the main reasons I went to the doctor" he explained.
The diagnosis: West Nile virus.
Dr. Don Williamson says state observers were pleasantly surprised last year.
In 2005 Alabama recorded 19 West Nile cases, and then a sharp drop to zero in 2006. Unfortunately, the trend isn't holding in 2007.
"Now we've got eight or nine and maybe a couple more you're reporting on," said Williamson.
Williamson says people may have let their guard down, most likely because of our drought. West Nile infects humans though mosquitos, and you wouldn't think they'd have anyplace to breed.
But any standing water is enough and Williamson says we're in prime time for infections.
"When we look at when people really get West Nile, it really isn't June or July. It really is August and September, and given our mosquito population, it could be October," he said.
It's too late for preventative measures for the McWhorters.
"If I had know this before, we would have at lease used bug spray," said Greg McWhorter.
If anything, their experience should serve one purpose - to warn you.
Here's the most surprising part: the McWhorters haven't traveled much lately because they have another three month old baby. As a result, they've spent most of their recent free time in Old Cloverdale.
So they're reasonably sure that's where Greg McWhorter and his son got bit with infected mosquitos.
That would seem to prove what the scientists tell us: West Nile can show up anywhere.
So far, Alabama has eight confirmed or probable cases so far this year, in Baldwin, Chambers, Jefferson, Madison, Marshall, Mobile and Montgomery counties. That figure may not include the McWhorters' cases.
One person has died.
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