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Valley man contracted West Nile but had no idea until donating blood

Posted at 3:00 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 21:25:38-04

PHOENIX — A Goodyear man says he contracted West Nile Virus from a mosquito in the Valley and had no idea.

"I've been retired for a number of years and do volunteer work and thought blood donation was another thing I could be doing," said Walter Kalback.

Back in June, the 75-year-old donated blood for the second time. However, this time he soon got a call that still shocks him today.

RELATED: West Nile Virus cases in Maricopa County continues to grow in 2019

"They said we've screened your blood, it has turned up positive for West Nile Virus, how are you feeling do you feel unusual," said Kalback.

Kalback says he felt fine, showing zero symptoms, and soon found out that's not totally unusual.

"They said that essentially 75 to 80 percent of the people that contract West Nile don't have any symptoms," said Kalback.

He says the positive test was then passed along to county health officials who tried to determine where he may have picked up the virus. Kalback says he had no idea.

"They were very anxious to know where I may have been bitten," said Kalback.

Dr Andrew Carroll says this time of year, monsoon conditions create perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. But that doesn't mean you run out and get tested after every bite.

"If you don't have symptoms then you probably shouldn't worry, your body is doing it's job," said Dr. Carroll.

He says symptoms you could see can range from mild to severe.

"Things you should be looking out for are severe fever, fever above 102, stiff neck, headache, just feeling crummy like a really really bad flu," said Dr Carroll.

So far the county has tracked 57 cases throughout the Valley, of which one person has died.
But it's those who have underlying medical issues that face the greatest risk.

As for Kalback, there is a silver lining to all of this.

"I was told by the Maricopa County Health Department that once you get West Nile Virus you're immune for a lifetime, so I'll never get it again," said Kalback.