The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Advertisement
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
Advertisement
Texas A&M pitcher Evan Aschenbeck (53) reacts after throwing the final strike out during Texas A&M’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at Olsen Field. (Chris Swann/ The Battalion)
Down but not out
Neil Jhurani, Sports Writer • May 23, 2024

A warm, summer evening bestowed Hoover, Alabama on Wednesday night when the No. 4 Texas A&M Aggies faced the No. 15 Mississippi State Bulldogs...

Advertisement
Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Bee-hind the scenes
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
April 25, 2024
Advertisement
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Treasuring each step

%26%23160%3B
 

Dressed in a black button down shirt neatly pressed and lightly tucked into faded blue jeans and standing relaxed at 6 feet tall, Donnie Manry looks like a typical man born and raised in Brazos county.
Manry, with an inviting smile and warm personality, served as a sergeant for the Bryan Police Department for more than 24 years. He always knew he wanted to help the friends and loved ones from his upbringing by being an officer.
“I wanted to try and make a difference,” Manry said. “When I joined, I wanted to give back to a place that gave me so much, and there are a lot of good people in this community.”
But aside from his tall stature, there are other striking features that set the spirited 48-year-old apart, such as hearing aids in both ears and a wooden cane he handles in his left palm — a tool he said he would be immobile without.
These accessories are the byproducts of West Nile Virus, a disease Manry contracted in 2006 — a year that set the record for West Nile cases across the U.S. He was forced to retire a year later.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, humans can contract the virusthrough a mosquito bite. The first domestically acquired human cases were documented in 1999. In 2002, activity for the virus had been identified in 44 states as well as the District of Columbia. It can be tracked in humans, horses, birds and mosquitoes.
Less than one percent of people infected contract a serious neurological infection called West Nile Neuroenvasive Disease. The disease occurs in three stages: encephalitis, characterized by swelling of the brain; meningitis, an infection of the spinal cord; and poliomyelitis, paralysis of the limbs and, in some cases, respiratory failure.
Manry said he was unfortunate enough to be in the less-than-one percentile. He contracted all three stages of WNND. One morning he woke up with a stiff neck; six days later he was paralyzed from the waist down.
“I told my wife I must have slept wrong because my neck and head [were] killing me,” Manry said. “As the week progressed, that stiffness and pain went from my neck to the muscles in my back; it felt like someone was taking the muscles in my back and ripping them apart. After a couple of days, I started running a fever, reaching a high of 105. On the third day, I started limping. I knew I hadn’t done anything to hurt my back and didn’t understand what was going on.”
Manry said he went to four physicians searching for answers. He was only told it was the flu and instructed to “go home, rest, and let it run its course.” After days of excruciating pain, Manry said his worst nightmare had come true. He had no sensation in his legs.
“I woke up, tried to get out of bed and I couldn’t,” Manry said. “I collapsed. Nothing worked. I was scared to death. All I knew was that I couldn’t walk. My wife and children came in to the bedroom and basically leaned me on an office chair with wheels on it and rolled me out onto the patio. My wife literally drove her vehicle up to the patio, and they pushed me into the car.”
Manry’s wife, Stephanie, recalled the scariest moment was seeing her new husband — only a year into their marriage — “crawling on his hands and knees like an infant.”
“To see a grown man literally brought to his knees is when it hit me that something was really wrong,” said wife Stephanie Manry. “We had a lot of frustration in not knowing what was going on. When bad things happen, your mind kind of blanks out as a survival mechanism. It was all kind of a blur.”
Manry was sent to the emergency room, where an infectious disease control specialist treated him. After 11 hours and numerous rounds of CAT scans, MRIs, spinal taps and blood draws, the results were confirmed.
After spending six months at St. Joseph Rehab hospital, Manry was able to return home where he continued intensive outpatient rehab for 18 months. After two years of physical therapy and being confined solely to a wheelchair, Manry was able to regain movement in his legs.
Chelsea Manry, the family’s oldest daughter, was 15 when her father was diagnosed with West Nile Virus. She said relief washed over her after seeing her father walk again.
“It took all the effort he had to do it. Seeing dad progress in rehab — being able to move a toe and then an ankle was amazing — any slight movement was a milestone,” Chelsea said. “After all the stress and worry, it’s so nice to be almost back to normal and a family again.”
According to the CDC, 80 percent of people who become infected with West Nile Virus never develop symptoms attributed to the infection, which include fever, headache, fatigue and swollen lymph glands.
“One of the signatures of West Nile is having flu-like symptoms. If you start having flu-like symptoms, especially over the summer, you need to get yourself checked,” Manry said.
Christine Mann, assistant press officer for the Department of State Health Services, said there were nine reports of West Nile Virus in Texas between the months of May and August.
“Mosquitoes get the virus from feeding on infected birds and mammals,” Mann said. “The risk of exposure to West Nile Virus is relatively small; one in 100 mosquitoes will carry the virus.”
DSHS statistics show there have been 122 reported fatalities resulting from West Nile virus, 301 cases of West Nile Fever and 1331 reports of WNND in Texas since 2002.
Don Plitt, director of environmental health services at Brazos County Health Department, said the virus is common in places that contain stagnant bodies of water.
For residents of Brazos county, many of those naturally occurring pools are major creeks.
“Normally, we have a lot of complaints about mosquitos biting people, which normally means there is a production area for mosquitos,” Plitt said. “I don’t think I have seen one mosquito complaint filed this summer. The weather is so dry that it’s dried up the temporary pools where mosquitos can breed.”
Plitt said the season for mosquito production in Brazos County generally starts May 1 and continues through Nov. 1. Plitt said it is possible for people to be infected this year, but not likely.
“It could happen, but I don’t know if it’s going to start without having any signs of it this summer already,” Plitt said. “In October, when the first freeze comes through and temperatures become lower at night , the mosquitos that carry West Nile will stop breeding; we’re coming up on the stretch here.”
Five years later, Manry said he continues to walk a bit more each day. While some days are better than others, he said it’s the little things that make his life more meaningful, such as being able to put on his pair of worn cowboy boots again. He also gives seminars on Neuroenvasive Disease across the nation, trying to show those who have been infected that they are not alone.
“I like to talk to those folks and help them stay away from the negativity of it all. The disease is not something I would picked to have happen to me, but I am such a better person because of it.” Manry said. “People run around every day and get lost in the stress, but until you’ve had that taken away from you, you don’t realize how precious life truly is.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *