(OnFocus) Three weeks ago, Sean Doepke of Spencer had just fallen asleep when he rolled over and had a seizure.
After being transported to the Marshfield by ambulance, Doepke spent the next five hours undergoing blood work, a CT scan, and a chest X-ray — all of which came back normal. Unconvinced, Doepke waited at home and at eight that morning, experienced another seizure.
“They decided to keep me overnight and then basically they did a battery of tests: EEG, spinal tap, MRI,” he said. “They couldn’t find anything.”
Doepke was sent home and prescribed anti-seizure medication. A brain scan showed nothing unusual. Last week, he finally received a possible answer to his symptoms after a call from the Marathon County Health Department, which told him there was a presumptive positive for the Jamestown Canyon Virus.
Jamestown Canyon Virus is spread to humans by an infected mosquito bite. Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, nausea, and joint pain, though many who get infected never develop any obvious signs. More severe symptoms include severe headache, increased lethargy, and confusion.
Medication such as over-the-counter pain medication can reduce symptoms, but there isn’t a specific course of action once someone contracts the virus, nor is a vaccine available.
“There is no treatment,” Doepke said. “It’s got to rid itself.” The good news is that once the virus has worked its way out, the body has developed an immunity and can’t contract it again.
Doepke will follow up with a neurologist in three months to determine whether medication is still necessary and said he is on the upswing, though it’s a slow process.
While the Jamestown Canyon Virus is rare in Wisconsin, recent years have seen an uptick in cases. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Wisconsin had 23 probable and confirmed cases of the virus in 2018, and in 2017, there were 43. The first case was identified in the state in 2011. Most cases appear to be concentrated in the central to north central regions of the state.
Doepke hadn’t traveled far outside the area and suspects he may have contracted the virus in Clark County. Since mosquitoes are active from May to September, one can avoid getting bitten by a potential infected mosquito by wearing repellent with DEET, long sleeves and pants, and staying indoors during active times.
For more information about the Jamestown Canyon Virus, visit the Wisconsin Department of Health website.