What started as a rash after a day of yard work quickly turned into a medical emergency for one of the County’s most recognizable employees.
Bill Polick is the Public Information Officer for the Department of Public Works. Whether it is a mudslide on a County road or a problem at one of the County’s airports, it is Polick you see on TV, keeping the media up on the latest details. Now it is his personal story that is making news, as he becomes one of the latest people to be diagnosed with West Nile virus in the County this year.
An avid surfer and motorcycle rider, Polick was feeling great a few weeks ago when he decided to take on a big backyard project – cutting down a large ficus tree. He woke up the next day with a rash from head to toe, which quickly progressed to chills, exhaustion and disorientation. He has almost no memory of his ordeal.
“I think that’s one of the worst things, losing ten days of my life – not remembering anything at all,” said Polick.
When Polick woke up in the middle of the night talking incoherently, his wife, Earleen, rushed him to the hospital. Doctors did a battery of tests and finally got word from the CDC that Polick had tested positive for West Nile virus.
“I thought I had done everything I could to protect myself – made sure I didn’t have standing water around my property, kept my pool clean. But I still got the virus, and trust me, you do not want this to happen to you,” said Polick.
As a County employee, he had heard the messages about West Nile virus prevention for years. He had even participated in media events to educate the public about the virus. Now, he’s talking to the local news media and anyone else who will listen about his own story, hoping that he can prevent someone else from getting sick.
“Work with your neighbors. Work with your employers to make sure they are taking the necessary step, too,” warns Polick.
Important advice, since the threat of West Nile virus will continue until temperatures cool down for a significant period of time.
Polick is slowing gaining back some of the 30 pounds that he lost, and while he still relies on a cane to help with balance, he is expected to make a full recovery. He hopes to be back at work in mid-November and is even planning a cross-country motorcycle trip next summer.
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