Francis Scanlon arrived at a hospital with a fever of 106 degrees. Doctors quickly diagnosed West Nile virus as the cause. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Maricopa County health officials have already confirmed three cases of West Nile virus in2013. (Source: CBS 5 News)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (CBS5) -
It's a small insect bite, more irritating than painful, but the ramifications are huge.
A Phoenix-area man in Scottsdale Healthcare-Osborn Hospital can attest to the consequences of a tiny mosquito bite as he recovers from West Nile virus. He now he wants to ensure his plight serves as an awareness campaign about the illness.
Francis Scanlon, 79, said he lives 10 houses down from a canal and mosquitoes are in and around his home. He said he never thought that being bitten by one would lead to moments near death.
"I was dead. I was theoretically dead," he told CBS 5 News.
It was the result of just one bite from one of these insects that put him near death on June 20.
"They put me in an induced coma and they put a feeding tube down my throat and they tied me to the bed so I wouldn't pull it out," Scanlon said.
Scanlon arrived with a fever of 106 degrees. Doctors quickly diagnosed him as being infected by a bite from a mosquito carrying the West Nile virus.
"I had mosquitoes around the house and I didn't take it serious," he said.
Already this year, three cases of the West Nile virus have been confirmed by the Maricopa County Department of Health. The trend from 2011 and 2012 grew from 45 to 88.
And so is Scanlon's recovery. According to his physical and occupational therapy team, he's putting his best foot forward.
"Acute inpatient rehab is very important in a patient's progress," said Dee Dee Straziscar, a nurse rehab coordinator. "It can be the difference between going home or never making it home again."
And just last week, Scanlon graduated from speech therapy, but most importantly, he celebrated his 79th birthday.
"I was able to sit down with my friends and we bought a couple bottles of cider champagne," Scanlon said.
Francis says the best advice: If you have mosquitoes around your house get rid of them.
"This is here, to be careful to be diligent and don't take it lightly," he advised.
In addition to high fever, other symptoms of West Nile virus include rashes on the chest or stomach, aches and body pains.
Medical professionals say to call a doctor right away if you experience those symptoms after a mosquito bite.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.