West Nile virus has struck nine people in Bexar County this year, and 52-year-old David Youngblood is one of the lucky ones to not only have survived, but to have done so without medical intervention.
While he does not know how he contracted the deadly virus, blood screens conducted after a company blood drive identified him as the second confirmed case in the area
Youngblood says the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center contacted him a few days after the donation and informed him of his condition, giving him the solution to a mystery illness he had suffered two weeks earlier.
“I did have chills (and) fevers. It was really strange because I never felt like I was sick ... it was just these symptoms were coming on kind of randomly," he said. "It was really very odd."
Youngblood said he is rarely sick, but the pain in his spine and neck were uncomfortable enough to try to get a diagnosis at a Texas Med Clinic.
None was given and he took regular Advil for the pain, which went away after a few more days.
Once the blood screen identified his illness, researchers from Metro Health attempted to pinpoint where he contracted the virus, but his travels from Waco to San Antonio and elsewhere, as well as the avid biker’s cross city treks four times a week left few clues.
“He was asking me, 'Could I isolate where I got bit by a mosquito,' and I said, 'No, not really.' I said if it was a big red hornet, I would have remembered, but given a mosquito, it's hard to know when you got bit,” he said.
The good news is that aside from five days of pain and fever, Youngblood has returned to his regular activities and bears no ill effects from West Nile.
In fact, he says he’s been told he’s now immune to the disease.
Still, he will have to wait for 120 days before donating blood again, and also plans to wear bug spray daily.
Doctors warn those who have weakened immune systems, the very young, the very old and those who have received organ transplants that West Nile causes life-long complications, and often death as well.
Most other people will simply exhibit flu-like symptoms like Youngblood, then recover fully.