SIX NATIONS — The world acclaimed Six Nations’ Mohawk potter Steve Smith has been diagnosed with West Nile virus. Six Nations Elected Council confirmed one human case of West Nile virus. Since that announcement family members of Smith have confirmed he is the subject of that announcement.
Family members told TRT Smith was increasingly ill with a fever and severe dizziness and was eventually transported to hospital where tests initially did not confirm he had West Nile.
He was later admitted to Brantford General Hospital’s intensive care unit.
Smith’s daughter Santee Smith, also an acclaimed Mohawk artist, spoke about her father’s illness on social media in a Facebook post saying “Nia:wen kowa for all of the amazing support and comments about my father…It’s heartwarming to hear how much he has impacted so many people with his work and stories. We’re devastated that he is so sick. His recovery is turtle slow but looking positive. We are taking each day as it comes and standing by his side. Just an update: he is still in critical care. We’re looking forward to the time when he can come home to gather his strength in his surroundings. We are grateful for the prayers and good energy sent his way. He is loved.”
Family members the road to recovery will be a long and costly one. A GoFundMe account has been set up in his name to help with the costs. Funds are needed for his immediate and long-term medical care, including a hospital bed, ramp to house, rehabilitation costs and physiotherapy.
West Nile virus is spread to people and animals through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The mosquitoes get the virus by feeding on infected birds. The virus does not spread from person to person.
Confirmed human cases of West Nile virus are appearing in other patients in the local area as well.
Last month the Brant County Health Unit confirmed one human case of West Nile. Late last week the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit confirmed six human cases of West Nile virus including one death.
Health officials say the West Nile virus peaks in late summer and reported cases continue to surface into the fall.
Mosquito pools have tested positive for the virus in Brant, Cayuga, Simcoe, Dunnville, Caledonia, Mississaugas of the New Credit and Six Nations.
Only 1 in 150 people infected with the virus will exhibit symptoms and according to Health Canada 20% of those will become seriously ill.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. About 80% of patients who are infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms. Some people experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, mild rash, and swollen glands. These symptoms usually appear within 2 to 15 days after infection. Adults 50 years or older and those with underlying medical conditions or weaker immune systems are at greater risk. Serious symptoms can include rapid onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, nausea or vomiting, difficulty swallowing, drowsiness and confusion. People can also get serious symptoms such as loss of consciousness, lack of coordination, muscle weakness and paralysis.
In general, recovery can take a week for mild cases. Some severe cases could experience a variety of health effects for many months to years after their initial illness. Some severe cases of the disease can be fatal.