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Mason County Man Battles Effects of West Nile Virus

A Mason County man is facing a long road to recovery. He was diagnosed with West Nile Virus in September.
MASON COUNTY – Imagine going about your daily duties and suddenly being unable to move your legs. For one Mason County man, that’s reality.

Now, the Hedrick family is speaking out about a life-threatening illness that can affect anyone who spends time outside.

On September 4th, Michelle Hedrick knew her 53-year-old husband, Kenneth, wasn’t feeling right. She said, “He was just really tired, upset stomach.”

She took him to the hospital near their house in rural Manito. Doctors diagnosed him with extreme heat exhaustion and sent him on his way.

However, just three days later, he was getting out of his work truck and collapsed.

The days following are still difficult for Michelle to talk about. She said, “It was a very long, very long 35 days.”

Kenneth spent 35 days at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. On September 18, the Hedrick famly got the news that their outdoorsman dad was a victim of West Nile Virus.

Kenneth said, “I never imagined a mosquito could bring you down like that.”

Michelle added, “This is a man that for the 27 years we've been together he's always been my Superman. And I saw it bring him down like that. One little bug.”

Now back at home, life is very different. Kenneth is taking many medications and has regular therapy sessions that slowly give him back his strength.

But, he said he still has a long and uncertain road to recovery. Michelle said, “This is him learning to walk again. Learning to take care of himself. You know, he's starting from scratch.”

They pray he’ll continue to fight and one day, be back on his feet. Kenneth said, “That's what keeps me going. I mean, I know I'm going to get better.”

West Nile Virus can attack people in very different ways. Although the threat of mosquitoes has passed for the year, we’ve compiled some information for your use.

70 to 80 percent of people who become infected don’t develop any symptoms.

However, one in five people will develop a fever, body aches and nausea.

Severe symptoms show up in less than one percent of people, but it could lead to serious problems, such as inflammation in the brain.

A benefit called “Fight the Bite” will be held in November to help the Hedrick family pay for medical expenses. They do not have any insurance and the bills are reaching more than $250,000.

It’s happening on November 9th at the Pekin Marine Corps. It will feature a spaghetti dinner, auctions, and karaoke. The family is also taking donations.

If you want to help, please call Stephanie at (309) 241-7331.
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