Paul Dee Barnes, a former Curry County commissioner and longtime community leader, said Tuesday he has contracted West Nile virus.
“Unfortunately, I have it,” the 60-year-old farmer and rancher said. “I don’t know when I got it. I’ve spent about two weeks in the hospital, but I’m OK. There’s no permanent damage that we can tell.”
Nancy Barnes said her husband has been sick for about three weeks and has been in and out of hospitals in Clovis and Lubbock.
“It’s quite an experience,” he said. “I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”
Barnes began to run a fever around Aug. 9. He went to a doctor in Clovis, then was admitted to Plains Regional Medical Center on Aug. 18. But as the illness lingered, his wife decided to move him to Covenant Hospital in Lubbock. His illness was identified as West Nile virus at the time he was released from Covenant Hospital on Saturday, Nancy Barnes said.
She said her husband’s temperature has reached 103 degrees on several occasions and he has had head and neck pains that doctors have identified as meningitis.
How Barnes got the virus isn’t clear, she added.
“He’s an outside person. We farm and ranch, so he’s outside all the time. He only knows of one (mosquito) bite and that was in the house, because it was on his foot,” she said.
In addition to serving as Curry County commission chairman for five of his 10 years, Barnes also served as a Texico School Board member for 10 years and as a board member for the Farm Bureau for 12 years. Barnes is an active member of the Curry County Mounted Patrol and has served as a past president of the Men’s Bible Class that meets each Sunday morning at North Plains Cinema.
New Mexico has recorded 57 human cases of the mosquito-borne disease this summer, The Associated Press reported on Tuesday. Four people from New Mexico have died from the virus.