West Nile Virus: Victim speaks out, plus resources you need to know

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HENDERSON, Colo. — The Labor Day weekend means many of you will spend time outdoors, so medical experts have a warning.

The Centers for Disease Control predicts this could be the worst season ever for West Nile virus.

On Thursday, we introduced you to a Henderson woman who nearly died from the virus.

Doctors say Kimberly Matteo is lucky to be alive–especially after she was sent home from one hospital.

The family of the 56-year-old brought her to Lutheran Medical Center on Aug. 15.

This was after they took her to Platte Valley Medical Center the night before, on Aug. 14.

That hospital sent her home, and Matteo says that decision could have killed her.

“It was everything I could do to get up and get out of that bed,” said Matteo.

She couldn’t have known a mosquito had infected her with West Nile virus.

Her family hoped doctors at Platte Valley Medical Center could help.

And Matteo’s son offered a clue.

“I remember my son, Danny, telling the doctor they need to admit me. He said, ‘my mother has every symptom of West Nile.’ and the doctor said, ‘I don’t admit for fever.’ I said, ‘please don’t send me home. I am so sick,’” says Matteo.

But the doctor did send her home, after prescribing antibiotics.

About eight hours later, her family took her to a second hospital, Lutheran Medical Center, in Wheat Ridge.

“They saved my life and they told my family had they not brought me there I would have been dead Thursday morning,” she says.

She had the severest form of West Nile.

The virus had inflamed her brain and spinal cord.

And now on the mend, a Tri-County Health Department study shows some victims have problems later in life.

“We found individuals who’ve had major health effects, lingering health effects for months, even years after severe infections,” says Dr. Richard Vogt, executive director of Tri-County Health.

But Matteo isn’t worried.

“Only the near future is going to show. I feel confident, God spared me from taking me and he’ll heal me and bring me through this,” says Matteo.

But she does worry about others with West Nile who may get misdiagnosed.

She has this suggestion.

“Have an advocate with you, someone in your family that knows you well. And be very adamant. I should have never, ever been sent home from the first hospital. It could have cost me my life,” says Matteo.

Platte Valley Medical Center released this statement Friday night:

“Ms. Kimberly Matteo came into our emergency room at 10:10 p.m. On august 14, 2012. She had flu-like symptoms with complaints of a fever, chills, and weakness. After a thorough examination; via vital signs, blood tests, urinalysis, and x-rays, Ms. Matteo’s results indicated a fever and mild dehydration but no other signs of infection (her white blood cell count was normal). A lab test for West Nile virus was also drawn; however, results for West Nile virus take three days to process.

Her symptoms were treated during her stay and by the time of discharge (2:25 a.m.), she had appropriately responded to treatment (IV fluids and Tylenol). Her lab values and vitals sign were within range.  Based on her responsiveness to the treatment provided, she did not meet the criteria for admission to the hospital. Upon discharge, Ms. Matteo was instructed to follow-up with her primary physician that day, august 15, 2012, for continuation of care or return to the emergency department if her symptoms worsened. 

Platte valley medical center (PVMC) places the highest priority on patient care, quality, and safety. We are one of five hospitals in Colorado named a top performer by the joint commission for achieving excellence in adhering to evidence-based practices. This means that PVMC consistently utilizes evidenced-based approaches to patient care founded upon current research and the medical best practices. Our care is patient-centered and our mission to foster optimal health for all.”


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