No cases of West Nile virus have yet been confirmed in Brown County, but the disease has directly affected at least one local family.
Joey Worley, the brother of Donnie Worley who works at Hiway Auto Parts in Brownwood, was hospitalized at Baylor Medical Center’s ICU in Dallas as he recovered from the disease.
Worley, 51, a coach at Fairfield High School south of Dallas, and his wife, Renea, were among the North Texas residents interviewed for a segment on West Nile virus that was broadcast on ABC’s nightline Wednesday night.
In addition to his brother Donnie, Joey Worley has in-laws who live in Brown County. Joey Worley is the head basketball coach at Fairfield High School, according to a story in the Fairfield Recorder. He had been first treated for flu-like systems while traveling in New Mexico last month.
“Joey plays in a lot of golf tournaments with me here in Brownwood, so a lot of people know him,” Donny Worley said. “The main thing I would like people to realize is, here is a coach who runs in marathons and works out every day, and is in great physical shape, but he almost lost his life to West Nile.”
In the Nightline segment, Joey Worley is shown in video playing basketball just days before he became ill. Now, Renea Worley told the ABC reporter, he needs help getting out of his hospital bed.
Joey Worley was misdiagnosed by three physicians before he arrived at Baylor having convulsions, not knowing where he was.
“His West Nile led to ‘West Nile encephalitis’ and he spent four days in ICU with the doctors not able to do anything,” Donnie Worley said. “He is home now, but still has a long road ahead of him, but he should fully recover. He takes one day at a time, and trying to get all his strength back will take months. He is just one of the lucky ones who was in good enough shape for his body to fight this disease off.”
Donnie Worley said that during his brother's hospitalization, a 42-year-old woman died.
This year, approximately 130 people in the United States have died from West Nile virus, according the national medical statistics. North Texas seems to be the epicenter of the outbreak.
West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes, and the Brownwood-Brown County Health Department has been working for several months to eliminate places where water — their breeding ground — settles. Residents are urged to eliminate places where water settles, to use insect repellent outdoors, and avoid being outside if possible at sunrise and dusk.
A video of the Nightline program featuring the Worleys is available at http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/