Gainesville man fights off most severe form of West Nile

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GAINESVILLE, TX -- As temperatures begin to rise in Texoma so does the threat of the West Nile Virus. Last year the state of Texas had 172 confirmed cases and 13 deaths.

Seventy-six-year-old Winford Sherrill of Gainesville, who goes by Winnie, has been through a lot the last six months.Completely healthy and without any history of medical problems the West Nile Virus suddenly changed all of that. Sending him to the I.C.U. and sending his family into a battle like no other.

Back in October, Wilford Winnie Sherrill started having flu-like symptoms that sent him to the hospital. But as time went on, doctors were unable to pinpoint the problem.

"In a couple of days he graduated to the I.C.U. because his condition got worse and worse and it was very scary," said June Sherrill, Winnie's wife.

Nearly a week went by before doctors discovered that Winnie had contracted the West Nile Virus and he developed more severe symptoms that affect less than one-percent of people who are infected.

"He had encephalitis with this and that part of the disease.Not everyone gets that part," said June.

Encephalitis is the inflammation of the brain but the virus also affected every muscle in his body including his throat. So doctors put him on a feeding tube to keep him alive. But Winnie's condition got worse...

"And then when I got that phone call at 1:20 saying that they had put him on the ventilator...I was shocked...completely shocked because I never did realize that it would get that bad," said June.

Winnie doesn't remember much about his ordeal but eventually started getting better. After nearly two-months in the hospital he was transferred to a nursing home and is now at home rehabilitating.

"I couldn't have made had it not been for my wife and my daughters. If you look over there at that table there's probably about 150 cards of people wishing you to get well," said Winnie.

After all Winnie has been through he says he appreciates the support from so many people.

"And that's makes you feel good," said Winnie

The Center for Disease Control says the West Nile Virus is commonly spread by mosquito bites...
One in five people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms like body aches and joint pain...
less than 1% of people infected will develop a serious neurological illness like Winnie Sherrill did.