West Nile victim doing better

Terry Laird said he was bit in Lincoln, Roseville or Wheatland
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Terry “Skip” Laird said he’s “counting his blessings.” That’s because Laird, 63, was hospitalized for three weeks in September after he contracted the West Nile Virus. The Lincoln resident said he was bitten by a West Nile-carrying mosquito in Roseville, Wheatland or Lincoln. “I’m working on the house all of the time so I’m outside and get bit all of the time. It’s no big thing for me to have mosquitoes buzzing around me all of the time,” Laird said. “What is very interesting to me is I was a strong, healthy man and just like that, a mosquito took me down.” Laird’s symptoms started on Aug. 21 on the way home from a Lake Tahoe trip as “just a very bad flu,” including stomach cramps, vomiting and loss of appetite. “After a couple of days, I went to the doctor because I started having congestion in my lungs, coughing, wheezing and not breathing right,” Laird said. Five days later, Laird said, his doctor treated him for bronchitis. Laird said his doctor told him he didn’t have West Nile virus because there were no headaches. Laird’s symptoms included a racing heart and loss of movement in his legs. Laird said a spinal tap tested for a bacterial infection, as well as blood tests, which came back two weeks later positive for the West Nile virus. During the two-week wait for test results, Laird said he was treated with antibiotics. When the positive result came in for the virus, he was treated with medication to boost his immune system. “The normal route of severe West Niles is it goes into encephalitis or meningitis, and with me, it went the other direction,” Laird said. “It was attacking my nervous system.” Laird said he is now at home, slowly regaining motor skills lost due to nerve damage. Not knowing what was making her father “so sick was scary,” said Laird’s daughter, Carrie-Anne Laird. “For a long time, no one knew what was going on. He was constantly in pain, which is not my dad,” Carrie-Anne Laird said. “You can’t have a plan of attack when you don’t know what it is.” She expressed gratitude for having her father home from the hospital. “He’s amazing. I know sometimes things get him down but he’s always trying to improve and he never gives up,” she said. Terry Laird talked about what he has gone through during his recovery. “I learned how to brush my teeth, comb my hair. Getting my arms over my head is difficult but I’ve learned how to do that and wash my face,” Laird said. “Just this week, I’ve been able to stand up enough to shuffle around the kitchen to fix toast and make coffee, and I’m learning to carefully use the walker to move with a cup of coffee without spilling it. It was cumbersome, but I did it.” Terry Laird said he’s enjoyed daily visits with friends and family, which he said “kept my mind working.” “That was awesome. I had at least one to five visitors a day. They were bringing me meals and they knew my favorite food is Reese’s (candy) so I got plenty of Reese’s and cashews,” Terry Laird said. “It could have been so much worse. I’m looking at my blessings and counting them. I just praise God and it makes you appreciate the simple, little things.” Mosquito spraying was done last month in Lincoln Parts of northern Lincoln were sprayed for West Nile carrying mosquitoes on Oct. 13, due to warmer weather experienced during early and mid-October, said Ada Barros, public information officer for the Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District, this week. “The most recent thing we have in surveillance is a dead bird in Lincoln picked up on Oct. 12, and prior to that, it had been at least three weeks since any positive mosquitoes anywhere,” Barros said. Spraying at the end of the mosquito season can impact next year’s mosquito population, which starts in the spring according to Barros. “Controlling adults this season can impact the type of population we have next year, because if we can kill as many egg-laying females this season, we’ll have less hatching this year.” The chance for catching West Nile disease has been reduced by the cooler temperatures, according to Barros. “The risk for West Nile for humans contracting it won’t be until mosquito season starts up again and we’re nearing the end,” Barros said.