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Child's West Nile diagnosis might now be in question

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 7, 2012 1:46 PM

A reported case of West Nile Virus in a Wayne County youth has not been confirmed, Health Director Davin Madden said Tuesday.

Relatives of Justin Frizzelle, 10, a Rosewood Middle School student, contacted the News-Argus late last week, saying that he had become ill earlier in the week, had a seizure and after being checked out by physicians at Goldsboro Pediatrics and Wayne Memorial Hospital, been airlifted to Vidant Memorial Hospital in Greenville. He later went into a coma.

Madden said the Health Department had not been notified about a local case of West Nile, so he had staff check with the Greenville hospital directly to see if there had been a confirmed case.

"Vidant is saying that they haven't got any tests back yet saying that that was West Nile," he said. "They said that the first initial test that came back did not confirm it was; it came back negative for West Nile."

The health director said officials were waiting on a "more thorough test" to come back with results. In the meantime, he wanted to remove any concerns about a potential epidemic.

"I think it's a good thing to share with the public, so we don't have anybody in any kind of fear unnecessarily," he said.

Erica Thompson, whose cousin, Sabrina Best of Grantham, is Justin's mother, said she had gotten all of her information about his condition from Mrs. Best.

At one point, she said, there was an indication that he might have encephalitis and she understood a spinal tap had been performed. After reports that the youth had fluid on the brain or swelling on the brain, which would have contributed to the coma, Mrs. Thompson said other questions arose.

"I asked if it was West Nile, (if the) encephalitis was due to West Nile," she said. "They said the tests had not come back."

Later, she continued, the boy's mother "said the doctors had told her it was West Nile."

When contacted about the discrepancy in diagnoses, Mrs. Thompson said she was "very surprised."

"That was the complete information that I understood, that the whole family had understood," she said.

Calls to Mrs. Best, who has remained at the hospital with her son, were not returned.

Mrs. Thompson did provide a partial update to Justin's condition late Monday.

"He's awake but he's showing some signs of traumatic brain injury," she said, adding, "It's not been confirmed that he has TBI. He can understand you ... (but) appears to be behaving completely out of character."