Spears receives positive prognosis

Published 7:44 am Friday, August 17, 2012

Darren Spears, of Bogalusa, who contracted Washington Parish’s first confirmed case of the West Nile virus this year, remains in the intensive care unit at University Hospital in New Orleans but is improving each day, according to his brother, Ronnie Spears, also of Bogalusa.

Ronnie Spears said doctors performed a tracheotomy on his brother Wednesday to help with his breathing, but added that Darren Spears was alert and in good spirits before the operation. Ronnie Spears said doctors have indicated to the family that his brother will eventually recover, and it appears he will suffer no long-term neurological effects, although his hospital stay is expected to be lengthy.

“He’s a fighter and I think he’s starting to figure it out that he’s going to be OK,” Ronnie Spears said. “We are encouraging him.

“The doctors are telling us he’s getting a little better every day.”

Tomorrow will mark three weeks that Darren Spears has been hospitalized. His mother, Frances Spears, said her son initially exhibited signs of fatigue, neck pain and fever and was first taken to LSU Bogalusa Medical Center July 28.

She said doctors at LSUBMC suspected he was had West Nile but could not be positive without test results. Later that same day he was transferred to University and on July 30 was placed in intensive care, where he has remained since.

He was also put on a respirator at that time.

A week ago, test results showed he had contracted the West Nile Virus. Six people have died in Louisiana this year from the virus.

Ronnie Spears said his brother is unable to speak but has indicated through head movement that he is not in any pain. Spears said his brother has also lost a great deal of weight and muscle shape but added the family is relieved for the positive prognosis.

“From what I’ve read (West Nile) is a serious deal,” he said. “Not everybody makes it. A lot of people don’t come out of it. I think he’s pretty lucky.”

Ronnie Spears said his family has become more guarded in their approach when outdoors. He said some family members stay indoors but he continues to perform chores outdoors, albeit with added protection from mosquitoes.

He is also vigilant about looking for any containers with standing water, which are fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes, including those carrying the virus.

“We go in the yard and look for water anywhere,” he said.