West Nile Virus has Long-Term Effects on Seward Man

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LINCOLN, Neb.-- What seemed like a nasty fever in September of 2013 turned out to be something much worse for Mark Henning.

After days of no recovery, the 44-year-old went to the hospital to get tested for West Nile Virus.

"When he started getting sick he was inside he was sleeping," said Mark's wife, Kim. "The night sweats were getting horrible."

Before the results from the test came back Mark was hospitalized. His wife says she was in California for business when he contacted her.

"I got the text message from him that it was worse than ever," said Kim. "When I was trying to find out if he needed to go back to the doctor, what he wanted to do, he wasn't coherent enough to answer that question to tell me what he wanted to do."

It was a scary situation for the both of them, so Kim called a friend who helped Mark get to the emergency room.

When the tests finally came in they were negative. But further testing proved that Mark not only had the virus, but a very rare string of it.

He developed encephalitis, a serious neurological illness. Weeks after recovery and 30 lbs. lighter the virus continued the attack.

"It ended up ultimately after I did some tests that I had asthma," said Mark. "Also in January I had surgery that came up pretty quickly. My gallbladder just about ruptured. Then when they did the surgery I had my appendix removed also."

The severity of Mark's symptoms happen to less than one percent of people who get West Nile Virus.

Because the Henning's knew nothing about the virus, they joined a support group on Facebook where many of their questions and concerns were answered.

"Just knowing not to be scared every time something happens was huge for me at least from the supportive side," said Kim. "There's just not a lot of awareness to understand what people are actually going through when they get West Nile this severe, that it's just not a bug
bite at this point it's much worse than that."

Mark will always have West Nile and other symptoms may arise, but his attitude remains positive.

"It's something you just have to deal with," said Mark. "You just have to make the best of it, I'm lucky I'm still alive that's the most important."