DALLAS — Dr. Charles Tandy began feeling aches and pains about a month ago. His hands still bother him.
The symptoms were serious enough for him to go to the hospital.
"One time it was pain, another time it was a burning sensation," said Dr. Tandy, a long-time anesthesiologist and former Dallas City Council member. "It might be in my elbow, it might be my knee, it might be my right ankle — that sort of thing. Very strange, it didn't make sense to me at all."
Doctors at Methodist Dallas Medical Center first thought the symptoms were related to a back surgery the 84-year-old had about three months ago. But the surgery, spine issues, and other health conditions were ruled out.
Dr. Tandy's wife, Rowena, had to convince doctors to check for West Nile virus.
"It took three or four days to get a blood test," she said.
The Tandys have known several people who have become sickened or died from West Nile. When the test results arrived, Dr. Tandy found he, too, had tested positive.
The case was reported to Dallas County Health and Human Services office more than a week ago.
"That particular patient's case did not meet the criteria of being certified," said Dr. Christopher Perkins, the agency's medical director.
Despite the positive blood test, Dr. Perkins said Tandy was ruled out, in part, because he had no fever. Health departments have been ordered to strictly follow specific criteria this year.
According to guidelines from the Texas Department of State Health Services, a case of neuroinvasive disease must meet all of the following criteria:
- fever of 100.4 degrees or above
- acute signs of neurologic dysfunction including meningitis or encephalitis
- absence of a more likely clinical explanation
"The state made it very clear," Dr. Perkins said. "The patient's documentation-wise, clinically, etcetera, have to have all those parameters met in order to be declared a case."
Health authorities say they expect other people this year will test positive for West Nile, but won't meet the other criteria. That means West Nile virus may affect many more people than are officially counted.
Unless the case is appealed, Tandy's case doesn't officially count to anyone — except him and his family. The Kessler Park neighborhood where Dr. Tandy lives, and likely got bitten, also won't automatically be sprayed for mosquitoes.