“I figured it was the flu and I would be over it in three days,” he said.
After three days of a fever of 101 and 103, Doxey, a real estate broker and pastor of Agape Christian Family Church in Lithonia, thought he had better go to the doctor.
Despite the prescription he got, his symptoms worsened over the next seven days.
“I had the fever and headaches,” he recalled. “My ribs were on fire. I couldn’t hold my head down. I had to sleep sitting up.”
Back to the doctor he went, and this time his physician felt a nodule in his neck.
Tests revealed that Doxey, 44, had several blood clots and embolism. He was hospitalized at DeKalb Medical, and blood tests run by the hospital confirmed that he had the West Nile virus. The Georgia Department of Public Health reconfirmed the diagnosis.
Doxey, who came forward this week “to put a face” on West Nile in DeKalb County, said most people have never seen a victim of West Nile virus.
“It’s real. It’s here,” he said. “Hey, it happened to me.”
Doxey said he was shocked at his diagnosis because he didn’t fit the profile that he thought of as a West Nile virus victim.
“I used to think the elderly, babies, and someone who had traveled extensively,” he said. “I hadn’t left the state or been out of the country – how could I have contracted West Nile?”
Doxey is the fourth DeKalb resident to be sickened by the virus this year. .
Through Sept. 26, the Georgia Department of Public Health says the state has had 44 confirmed cases and four deaths.
In all of 2011, there were 22 confirmed cases and three deaths. Nationally through August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are 1,590 confirmed cases of West Nile virus and 66 deaths – the most since the mosquito-borne disease was first identified in 1999. In 2011, there were 712 confirmed cases and 43 deaths nationally.
On Sept. 10, the DeKalb Board of Health announced that an 84-year-old Doraville man and a 63-year-old Central DeKalb woman were DeKalb’s first 2012 human victims of West Nile virus. It said both were recovering at home.
The virus also was found in the blood of a 25-year-old Central DeKalb man who was donating blood. He was not ill and had no symptoms. Only 20 percent of people who become infected with West Nile virus exhibit symptoms.
The fifth case was travel-related.
Vickie Elisa, a DeKalb Board of Health spokesperson, said privacy laws prevents them from verifying whether Doxey had the virus, but she said a 44 year-old man was confirmed with virus.
Doxey, who lives on Shadow Lake Drive in Lithonia, said his subdivision is located on a lake.
“You can’t talk to me about emptying the birdbath,” he said. “I am surrounded by water.”
He said he and his daughters Candace, 12, and Heavyn, 10, spent a lot of time outdoors, riding bikes and playing games in their yard.
“There are so many mosquitoes here, everywhere you go, you are going to get bit,” he said. “It never entered my mind that I could get West Nile virus.”
Doxey spent a week in the hospital and now is slowly regaining his strength. He is very aware that 46 people have died from West Nile virus in Texas. He considers himself lucky to be alive.
He wants county residents to realize that the virus is local, too.
“It’s here in DeKalb County,” Doxey said. “This is not a Southwest problem. It’s not a far away issue. It happened to me. It’s right here in our community.”
As a man of God, Doxey, the pastor of 13 years, says he doesn’t preach fear but that he now has reverence for mosquitoes.
“These things can hurt you,” he said. “Put your bug spray on. If you get sick or feel sick, go to the doctor.”
Mild symptoms of an infection are fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a rash on the chest, stomach and back. These can last from a few days to several weeks.
Dr. J. Patrick O’Neal, director of health protection for the Georgia Department of Public Health, said earlier this month that West Nile virus is a growing concern and that more cases were confirmed by the third week in August than at any time in the past 10 years.
“The problem of mosquitoes and West Nile Virus appears to be escalating in Georgia and across the country,” he said in an Aug. 24 statement.