West Nile Virus cases may be on the rise

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OMAHA, Neb (WOWT) Keep the bug spray close.

Five mosquito pools in Ouachita Parish have tested positive for the West Nile Virus in the latest round of testing. (Source: MGN)

We could see an increase in mosquitoes infected with West Nile soon.

According to the Douglas County Health Department, the risk may go up as recent rain and flood waters dry out.

Sixty-two-year-old Mike Zimmerman of Springfield is still recovering after a near fatal bite from a mosquito nearly a year ago.

“This started back in September of last year,” he said. “I woke up with a real bad headache and double vision and I never get headaches.”

Zimmerman said he was feeling tired and fatigued.

It was so bad, he finally went to the emergency room at the Nebraska Medicine campus.

“They seen (sic) the symptoms and stuff and started treating me for West Nile,” he said. “From that point on through my almost 60 days in the hospital up here I do not remember a day.”

Zimmerman didn't realize his look had changed.

“Up ‘til a couple of days ago, I never knew I had a mustache and sideburns.”

He began the long process of recovering, his muscles had deteriorated from the disease.

“Doctors were saying to me at one point it will probably take you a year to get back to where you used to be,” he said. “And I didn't realize back then that they were talking about just walking.”

And after months of therapy and rehabilitation...

“He kept progressing,” Mike Zimmerman’s wife, Joyce said. “He had his moments and we'll have our moments and we're just thrilled to be here now, we've gotten a lot behind us.”

Zimmerman said he didn't know much about the West Nile Virus before.

“I didn't feel a mosquito bite me and where and when…none of that,” he said.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 80 percent of those infected don't show any symptoms.

Zimmerman returned to the hospital Monday to thank his caregivers armed with an understanding just how dangerous the West Nile Virus can be.

His immune system was down after having kidney and pancreatic transplants 12 years ago, making him more likely to catch the virus.

Last year, 11 Nebraskans died from West Nile Virus.

So far this year, there have been four confirmed cases in Nebraska and two in Iowa.