Indiana man still recovering from West Nile virus nearly a year later

Jeff Watters is still recovering from West Nile virus. (WTHR Staff)
Muncie Man Nearly Dies From West Nile
West Nile cases confirmed
West Nile cases confirmed
Published:
Updated:

MUNCIE, Ind. (WTHR) — Every day for 11 months Jeff Watters has fought to get back the life a mosquito took from him.

"All this from a mosquito bite," Watters said. "Isn't that crazy all from a little mosquito."

A mosquito infected with the West Nile virus. Watters figured it was the flu. When he got sicker instead of better he went to a hospital emergency room.

"When I tried to get up on the table my legs went out and I don't remember anything for two and two and half months," Watters said.

He spent a month in the hospital, in a coma like condition and nearly paralyzed.

"They told my family for a day that I wasn't going to make it." Watters said.

He survived and moved on to nearly four months of intensive rehabilitation to be able to stand and walk again.

"It was hell," Watters said. "It was hell. It was brutal."

The West Nile virus attacks the brain and spinal cord. In 2018, 35 cases were reported to the Indiana Department of Health. Four people died. Fortunately most victims don't exhibit any symptoms.

An electrician accustomed to climbing ladders and crawling through basements, Watters now needs a walker to get to get to the mail box.

He can't work and he said his mind isn't as sharp as it was before being infected by the West Nile virus.

"It's like the devil is after you," Watters said. "Ya know that's what it seems like."

Watters isn't giving up. He does prescribed exercises in his living room and belongs to a fitness facility.

He never took the West Nile virus warnings seriously, but does now and encourages people to use mosquito repellant and take other precautions.