Phoenix man describes battle with West Nile virus as cases spike

Oct 15, 2021, 4:35 AM | Updated: 9:00 am
(Pixabay photo)...
(Pixabay photo)
(Pixabay photo)

PHOENIX — A north Phoenix man is one of many who have battled West Nile virus in Arizona this season as the state leads the country in cases.

The Maricopa County Public Health Department has documented 361 positive cases of West Nile this season as of Oct. 8.

Anthony Fagiolo represents one of those cases.

“I had a fever, my wife’s an RN so she took my temperature and it was 101 and I felt really weird out of all places in my prostate,” Fagiolo told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Fagiolo, 57, believes he was bit by a mosquito and contracted the virus after he dumped out a planter full of water in his front yard following heavy rainfall.

After suffering from a fever accompanied by a headache and a lot of inflammation, Fagiolo spent six days in a Valley hospital.

Once he was sent home, that’s when Fagiolo says he found out he tested positive for West Nile.

Six weeks later, Fagiolo still has symptoms which he describes as a weird hangover that hits him randomly and muscle tremors.

“I started having muscle twitches everywhere; my forearms, then it would be my right leg and then my neck,” Fagiolo said.

Fagiolo followed up with his urologist to be sure it was just West Nile. He said his doctor has seen other cases like this.

Infectious diseases physician at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix Dr. Nelson Nicolasora said this year he has seen the most West Nile virus cases throughout his 14-year career.

“I think incidents will start to fall as the weather gets colder, but we still see cases all the way through November but certainly numbers will significantly fall by then,” Dr. Nicolasora said.

Although most cases are asymptomatic, he has seen an increase in patients in the hospital with fevers, headaches and body aches like any common illness.

The biggest concern for patients is when they have serious infection symptoms that include a high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, confusion, tremors and vision loss while more severe cases possibly require a person to need a ventilator.

Over the past week, Nicolasora reports seeing roughly seven patients in his hospital with serious symptoms.

The Maricopa County Public Health Department as of Oct. 9 has reported 19 deaths from the virus this season.

People are urged to empty, drain or cover standing water around the home to prevent mosquito breeding.

Long sleeves, long pants and socks are also recommended while outdoors in addition to using an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET.

West Nile virus was first detected in the country back in 1999, with Maricopa County recording its first outbreak in 2004.

Maricopa County only recorded three cases of West Nile virus last year.

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Phoenix man describes battle with West Nile virus as cases spike