The most recognizable case of West Nile in the Brazos Valley is undoubtedly that of Bryan Police Sergeant Donnie Manry. He remains at the St. Joseph Rehab Center, but there are encouraging signs of improvement.
The last time most people saw the sergeant, he was all but paralyzed, barely able to control his lower extremities. Now, nearly a month since the onset of West Nile, Manry is seeing marked physical progress while maintaining a strong mental resolve.
"I'm optimistic," he said. "I think the recovery is going to be dependent 98 percent on attitude and what you think up here. I'm trying to stay very positive."
A normal seven-foot walk is anything but for Manry. In fact, it's a challenge in on-going therapy, which not only includes a slow walk down this path, but also work on a specially-designed treadmill, walks in the St. Joseph pool, and massages to try to loosen and activate his leg muscles.
In a 20 minute span Wednesday afternoon, the 43-year-old made five trips down a walkway, bars along the sides firmly gripped and three therapists around him. He took some 30 to 40 steps on the road to recovery.
With all the treatment and effort, Manry has achieved significantly more movement in his left leg, and a little more motion in his right. While optimistic, his therapist says the battle remains uphill.
"It's hard to tell because everybody's different, especially with this diagnosis being relatively new," said Julie Cernel, the lead therapist at the rehab center. "There's not a lot of history behind it to really know how the patient will progress, but we have been pleased with what he has been able to show us."
And the cards and posters continue to pour in for Manry as he goes down the road to recovery.
"No matter how small, it's just baby steps," he said, "but it's positive and it's moving forward."
"He's very positive and very motivated and upbeat," said Cernel, "and he just appreciates everything that he does have."
But a doctor in St. Louis who took note of Manry's story says a blood pressure pill may hold the key to Manry's recovery.
"Their role is to either block the production of a hormone called angiotensin II, or to block its actions," said Dr. David Moskowitz with GenoMed Incorporated.
Moscowitz has seen success with this treatment in patients of many different ages and stages of West Nile.
"Besides 20 out of 23 people, we've had luck with two out of three horses and six out of 12 birds, so it looks like it's working in multiple species," he said.
And the prognosis based on the current trends of this new treatment?
"[Manry] started two weeks after he was paralyzed, so it should take him eight weeks to recover," Moscowitz said. "I'm hoping he'll be pretty much recovered within another month or so."
"We don't know how he would have progressed without it, but he definitely is gaining strength daily," said Cernel. "Whether it's attributed to the new medication or not, it's hard to say."
"There's no downside to it," Manry said of the new treatment, "so if there's even a potential upside, he's been good about doing it."
And the upside for Manry could mean his case turns treatment for West Nile upside-down.
More detailed information on GenoMed can be found at their website, http://www.genomed.com