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West Nile Virus Almost Killed Him. How Jason Vanslette Proved His Doctors Wrong | Daily Business Review - Law.com

West Nile Virus Almost Killed Him. How Jason Vanslette Proved His Doctors Wrong | Daily Business Review - Law.com

West Nile Virus Almost Killed Him. How Jason Vanslette Proved His Doctors Wrong | Daily Business Review - Law.com

Posted: 27 Mar 2020 10:43 AM PDT

Jason Vanslette, partner at Kelley Kronenberg in Fort Lauderdale. Jason Vanslette, partner at Kelley Kronenberg in Fort Lauderdale.

Jason Vanslette was expected to die when the doctors took him off life support. His parents said their goodbyes to their 17-year-old son who was infected with West Nile virus. Yet somehow, Vanslette survived.

Now, Vanslette, a partner at Kelley Kronenberg who focuses his practice primarily on mortgage foreclosure litigation, owes his success in the courtroom to his time as a public defender. But, his near-death experience would not be the last time he had to face the virus that brought him to the brink of death.

In 2002, Vanslette was walking in the halls of Titusville High School soon after the school year began when he had a sharp pain in his forehead.

"I knew it was a different kind of headache," Vanslette said.

In the hallway, a faculty member had him call his parents in his classroom. Moments later, Vanslette was vomiting all over the floor.

At the hospital, where he was diagnosed with meningitis, the teenager kept passing out from the severity of his headaches. Upon release two weeks later, he collapsed within hours and was promptly taken to a different hospital. There, the meningitis turned into encephalitis of the brain.

Vanslette's brain and organs shutdown from the severe pressure. He had to be shocked back to life several times. Doctors placed him into an induced coma.

Finally, he was rushed to a third hospital in Orlando. There, his entire family was in pain, supporting him unconditionally. Doctors said Vanslette had just 24 hours to live. At his bedside, his parents said their goodbyes to their son.

'Go from the pews right up to the table'

After 14 days in a coma, Vanslette started showing signs of life. His doctors took him out of the induced coma.

"I slowly opened my eyes," Vanslette said. "Inside I felt normal. My mental thoughts were normal."

But his battle would continue. Vanslette had a host of problems, including with his vision, a completely lack of motor movement and the inability to communicate.

"I was trapped in my own body," Vanslette said. "The one thing that worked was my tear ducts. My parents knew that inside, I was clearly frustrated. You hear doctors say, 'he will never be the same.' "

Vanslette had to relearn many of the basic skills that many people take for granted and his doctors were doubtful that was possible. Over the next six to eight weeks, he was able to move in a walker. In three to four months, his speech returned.

Once Vanslette was back on his feet, his next challenge was his academics. Fortunately, teachers met at his parents' home to teach the determined teenager. To catch up with his peers, Vanslette went to summer school and he ultimately graduated on time in the top 1% of his class.

Soon after, Vanslette started a new chapter of his life at Florida State University for his undergrad education. Yet, he was still recovering emotionally from the previous chapter. He struggled with his purpose in life and why he survived while so many others with his condition did not.

"I had this existential crisis going into college," Vanslette said. "I had no purpose in life. I shouldn't be here."

Vanslette majored in religion and international affairs. After graduating in 2007 from FSU in the top 1% of his class, he knew his intellectual pursuit of religion was not going to translate into a career as a minister of a church. Instead, he decided to pursue law school at Nova Southeastern University.

As fate would have it, after graduating in 2011, the job market was poor and Vanslette took a job at the public defender's office in Orlando. It turned out to be one of the best decisions he ever made.

"As a public defender, I certainly appreciated the notion of second chances and trying to help those that sometimes couldn't help themselves," Vanslette said. "You don't realize when you start the job, you become just as much a social worker as an attorney."

Vanslette was in the courtroom for a majority of the day in the over two years he worked as a public defender. The experience helped him improve on his courtroom skills while many of his classmates had little courtroom time at that point in their law careers.

"I owe everything to the success, even in private practice, to those years I was a public defender," Vanslette said. "They throw you into it literally. As soon as the bar results came out, they expect you to go from the pews right up to the table."

On his first day he had violation of probation cases, without knowing what the term meant. His caseload that day was around 150 people. While Vanslette says there is not much a public defender can do in that moment to successfully bring a favorable outcome to his clients, he still felt like he was "letting them all down."

Ultimately, the judge, state attorney and Vanslette worked together. That on-the-job training was something the major trauma survivor found to be invaluable.

When Vanslette goes before his clients, he utilizes the skills he acquired as a public defender. Building on them over his career, he now gives mock trial and deposition training, how to withstand certain objections, questions and what to expect from opposing counsel.

New hires for his largest client also get those tips in a video to help them become stronger lawyers in the courtrooms. Vanslette crafts the video to take into account the most challenging aspects he encountered in the beginning of his career to more effectively teach them.

But West Nile fought back. Two years ago, Vanslette was reminded of how fragile life can be. He had an overall "biological feeling that something is wrong."

The virus reemerged, but this time, he recognized he signs of the virus and alerted his doctor to his previous medical history with meningitis.

Vanslette was out of work for four months but he recovered. He said the overall experience has changed his life for the better as he wants to continue to prove his doctors wrong — the ones who said he wouldn't be able to succeed, much less live a normal life.

"I don't like talking about it because there is some misconceptions with illnesses and whether or not they can affect the way that you practice," Vanslette said. "But if anything, in spite of that, I feel more motivated to excel."

Jason Vanslette

Born: 1984, Titusville

Spouse: Ashley Vanslette

Children: Kyleigh, Connor

Education: Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law, J.D., 2011; Florida State University, B.A., 2007

Experience: Partner, Kelley Kronenberg, 2015-present; Associate, Tripp Scott, 2012-2014; Assistant Public Defender, Public Defender's Office, Ninth Judicial Circuit, 2011-2012

Spring is the time to prevent West Nile and EEE viruses - Bryan-College Station Eagle

Posted: 16 Mar 2020 12:00 AM PDT

With spring around the corner, the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory wants to prepare your horses for West Nile virus and Equine Encephalitis virus. This AgriLife agency reports on annual trends in positive disease cases and discusses the best way to prepare horses through vaccinations and your veterinarian's help.

Last year, the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, TVMDL, documented fewer cases of West Nile virus than in previous years. The number of positive cases of West Nile virus in horses seen at TVMDL fluctuates from year to year, which is common with mosquito-borne diseases. In 2019, the agency reported only four positive cases in horses, none of which came from Texas.

As West Nile cases went down, however, the agency saw a slight increase in another prominent mosquito-borne disease: Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus, EEEV.

TVMDL reported 16 cases of EEEV cases in 2019, with four of those positive cases coming from out of Texas.

More thasn 98% of the cases involving either of these mosquito-transmitted diseases were in non-vaccinated or under-vaccinated horses.

What is West Nile Virus?

West Nile virus is a flavivirus that occurs worldwide. It is similar to other flaviviruses, such as Zika and yellow fever, in that it is transmitted by mosquitos. The virus first was detected in the U.S. in 1999 and within a few years had spread throughout the country. West Nile virus is now considered endemic in all of the Americas.

What is Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus?

Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus is an often fatal alphavirus that causes encephalitis, i.e. swelling of the brain. The virus first was recognized in Massachusetts horses in 1831 and has been reported across various parts of the eastern U.S. since. Although much rarer than West Nile virus, EEEV is similar in that humans are considered a susceptible species, if bitten by an infected mosquito.


Both West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus are reliant on a natural transmission cycle between birds and mosquitos. Birds serve as a reservoir host for the viruses that cause both diseases. Mosquitos that feed on infected birds serve as disease vectors and may transmit the disease to susceptible animals, such as horses and humans.

There is no evidence of the virus being transmitted directly from horse to horse or from horses to humans, therefore, horses are considered dead-end hosts. All equids appear to be susceptible, and all age groups can be affected.

Clinical Signs of West Nile Virus and EEEV

Clinical signs for both WNV and EEEV are similar and include:

• Fever

• Muscle twitching

• Weakness in legs

• Depression

Diagnosis for each virus cannot be made solely based on clinical signs. Several other equine diseases share similar signs and therefore, diagnostic testing is the only method to determine the cause of illness.

What can be done to prevent West Nile virus and EEEV?

Aside from practicing mosquito control around your barn, stable and home environment, the primary method of reducing risk in horses for both viruses is vaccination, as the vaccines available for both of these diseases has proven to be efficacious. Each year, the majority of documented cases of West Nile virus and EEEV come from non-vaccinated or under-vaccinated horses. TVMDL encourages horse owners to work with their veterinarians to establish a vaccination program, especially in areas with a historical presence of both viruses.

How can TVMDL help?

TVMDL offers three tests that may be of assistance when trying to detect West Nile virus and EEEV. Veterinarians working with horse owners are encouraged to call TVMDL with questions regarding diagnostic testing for either of these viruses. Consultations are free and can cover a variety of topics including test recommendations and result interpretation.

To learn more about test options, go to tvmdl.tamu.edu or call the College Station laboratory at 888-646-5623 or the Amarillo laboratory at 888-646-5624.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension photo

With spring around the corner, Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory wants to prepare your horses for West Nile virus and Equine Encephalitis virus.

West Nile Virus: Reflections on 20 Years - PCT - PCT Magazine

Posted: 12 Mar 2020 12:00 AM PDT

Whether they have many years of experience in the pest control industry or just a few, all PMPs have different reasons to be confident in their businesses and their skill set. The key is communicating that message to prospective customers. That's where marketing comes in.

"We're not talking about strategies for closing sales once you have the opportunity, we're talking about marketing techniques that are all about generating those opportunities in the first place," said June Van Klaveren, founder of Compelling Communications, a marketing and communications firm that's been serving the pest management industry for years. "These are methods for targeting promising markets, building your brand and generating and nurturing leads to drive faster growth and higher profits."

According to Van Klaveren, most people choose the pest control service that offers the best value for their money, and there are a few simple strategies for maximizing the perceived value.

ADDING VALUE. "The best way to win business is, of course, not to cut prices or rates, but instead to add products or services that elevate your offerings, making them too good to resist — and this is called bundling," she said.

For example, if your mosquito treatments are also effective against other household pests, let your customers know because that is something that raises the value of your service. Also, if your firm offers guarantees on your work, let customers know because such "add ons" definitely boost the value of your service.

Another strategy for adding value is productizing. Van Klaveren suggests adding a physical, educational component like a booklet or a tool kit to your services. This material is a tangible way to show your expertise in a service, while educating the customer in what they can do to prevent the pest.

Creating different service levels is another way for pest management professionals to add value, said Van Klaveren. Different service packages at various price points give potential customers options.

Once your offering is bundled, productized and put into tiers, it's time to communicate that to the appropriate market.

COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY. "You might think everyone's a candidate for your services; after all, mosquitoes can be a pest to just about anybody. But the determining factor really is who can afford your services," Van Klaveren said. "Studies show that 45- to 65-year-olds are the age group that look for mosquito services. They've reached that age where they can afford your services and they have a real need."

She added this age group is likely out of the do-it-yourself phase of their lives, and are looking for a service provider to make things easier. They also likely have children (or grandchildren) and pets they are looking to protect. Most live in a single-family home with a nice yard they want to enjoy.

Once you sell to that customer it is important to keep them engaged by upselling and reselling, which costs a lot less and gives a significantly higher yield than marketing to new prospects.

"As your technicians are performing their regular pest control services, they should take note of elements around the home that indicate that the family likes to spend time in their backyard, like patio furniture, and then ask them to record those leads," said Van Klaveren.

She added, "They might look for grills, pools, a wooded area, hot tubs — anything that says to them, 'Hey these folks like to spend time in their backyard,' and then be sure to have them record that address because that becomes a great lead for you, as well as any neighbors they have that fit that criteria as well."

MAKE THE SALE. Technicians can talk to homeowners about conditions at their home that may be conducive to mosquitoes or other pests, and leave behind support materials after these inspections/surveys. Incentivize your technicians to bring those leads and that information back into the office by offering some type of reward if they become customers.

You can even advertise those complementary property audits to customers.

"A lot of times companies do a lot of different services but they fail to talk about them, just assuming that the client or the customer knows all about it," Van Klaveren said. "Well you know what they say about assuming, so come right out and tell your clients and tell your prospects that we offer a free mosquito conditions audit."

Then, Van Klaveren suggests using a combination of sales tactics and marketing techniques to reach out to these customers and prospective customers every four to six weeks. That includes sales calls, mailers or emails with your best offers, as well as educational materials like newsletters and case studies.

But what exactly are you going to tell them with your messaging?

"There's a lot that goes into marketing your mosquito services and one of the most important things, if not the most important, is your message," said Van Klaveren. "I always like to talk about identifying benefits because a lot of pest control companies will feel that one of the benefits of their service is that they've been in business for 40 years or something like that, when the real benefit is that they are so experienced that they will be able to handle any pest control problem that comes up."

Van Klaveren suggests taking some time to identify your company's unique benefits, especially what sets it apart from the competition.

"Maybe it's the way you communicate after service, maybe it's the materials you use and how you apply them, maybe it's your guarantee, but whatever it is write down your unique benefits and use them in all of your marketing messages," she said.

These benefit-oriented messages are far more effective than fear-oriented messages.

She added that pest management professionals also should set customer expectations with their message. Be sure customers are aware of all aspects of a service and that they understand any guarantees that may come along with that service.

CREATING A NICHE. Once your message is set, it's time to look at your marketing approach, and Van Klaveren suggests starting by finding complementary companies.

"It's a real cost saver if you partner with companies that complement yours and who are likely to refer their clients to you," Van Klaveren said. Partners could be any entity from tent rental companies and wedding planners to landscaping and pool installation companies.

"Choose one and develop a niche," she said. "The fastest growing firms tend to be the specialists in carefully targeted niches, and that's an area of the industry they understand thoroughly."

Specialization like this also simplifies your marketing efforts by distinguishing exactly what sets you apart from your competition.

"Specialization is the most powerful differentiator, and when you get right down to it people want someone who is an expert," Van Klaveren said.

THE RIGHT MESSAGE. Education is another important aspect of a pest management marketing approach. "I think your message should be 70 percent education and 30 percent sales," she said. "People appreciate information. They don't always appreciate sales."

Choosing the right channel for your message is nearly as important as the message itself. Use current channels that you know work, like home and garden shows, fliers, post cards, invoice stuffers, online ads, radio and TV, but also focus on low-hanging fruit like using your website homepage to highlight services you are trying to push.

"What about a letter to your current customers?" Van Klaveren asked. "Gosh, this is one of the easiest things you can do. A well written letter introducing your mosquito services is a great idea and it's cost effective."

Less conventional avenues, like Pinterest, also can yield high results.

"Pinterest is one of the most highly trafficked areas on the web. Now you may feel that this is just for recipes or decorating tips…but just as an experiment go on Pinterest and search for mosquito control," Van Klaveren said. "You're going to find a lot of do-it-yourself stuff and tips about using the craziest things to repel mosquitoes, but you'll also find some pest control companies that have actually used Pinterest to their advantage."

Another unconventional opportunity on social media is posting in Facebook and LinkedIn groups. A high participation group is a great way to answer potential customers' questions and to show your expertise.

And no matter what channel the message was originally developed for, it can be repurposed for other mediums. Break down information from a blog to use in Facebook and Twitter posts, or edit a video to show on different platforms.

"Timing is also important," Van Klaveren said. "You need to be marketing your mosquito services now and throughout the season, not just when it gets to be hot weather and mosquitoes are at their peak. Start now before they become a problem."

Just remember, creating a successful marketing plan boils down to communication.

"The most important thing really in marketing your mosquito services is communication — communication with your customers and communication with your technicians so they know exactly what their role is in the whole thing," Van Klaveren said.

She added that a little creativity is exactly what sets successful pest management professionals apart.

"'Business unusual' not 'business as usual.' That's really what you need to focus on because the unusual is going to stand out," Van Klaveren said. "There are so many marketing messages out there that really stand out; you need to be a little unusual."

The author is an Ohio-based freelancer.

East Baton Rouge mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus; it's earlier than usual - The Advocate

Posted: 09 Mar 2020 12:00 AM PDT

The first positive sample of West Nile virus reported in Louisiana this year was found March 2 in a trap not far from Claiborne Elementary school in Baton Rouge.

While this potentially deadly virus has been found earlier in the year, most years it waits until May or later to surface, and last year it did not appear in Baton Rouge until August, said Randy Vaeth, interim director of East Baton Rouge Parish's Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control office,

"It is quite early in the season right now," said Vaeth.

Vaeth said LSU released the test results on Friday.

The positive sample means that Vaeth's office is revving up its mosquito abatement work in a one-mile radius around where that mosquito larvae were discovered. Nighttime sprays have yet to start, though, because of still cool evenings and occasional high winds, and aerial sprays won't occur until later in the year, he said.

Are open tires a mosquito hazard? Does the city-parish have authority to haul off tires that might cause a threat to health?

It's possible West Nile won't show up again in samples for weeks, or it could spread fast, Vaeth said.

In any case, Vaeth is urging residents to start taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites: wearing insect repellent while outside for long periods of time, restricting time outside during the early morning and late evening hours when mosquitoes are most active, and wearing long sleeves if possible. He also advises dumping any containers with standing water around homes.

Last year, 20 Louisiana residents got sick from West Nile virus and two died. The most serious type is a neuroinvasive infection, which can lead to paralysis, brain damage and death.

Coronavirus shutdowns residential mosquito spraying for two weeks in East Baton Rouge - The Advocate

Posted: 27 Mar 2020 08:49 AM PDT

The parish's department of Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control has temporarily suspended residential service for rodent control and mosquito spraying as part of continued efforts to reduce the chances of the novel coronavirus spreading even more throughout the community. 

But Randy Vaeth, MARC's interim director, says the routine truck spraying through the parish is still occurring on a nightly basis, as well as surveillance measures to track the possible threat of West Nile virus. 

"We're trying to comply with the mayor's directive to reduce the density of people congregating together and possibly being exposed to the virus," Vaeth said. Residential service is off until April 6. "The inspectors that do that may not necessarily have to interact with homeowners, but they often have to stop more frequently during the day to use the restroom. And they typically utilize restaurants, fast food places or stop at gas stations to do that."

The decision put 19 employees on paid administrative leave since residential calls ceased Monday. 

Vaeth said the parish isn't currently experiencing a high volume of mosquito activity nor has there been any detection of West Nile virus found in the mosquito samples they've caught in traps recently. But the upcoming warmer temperatures could change things, so he said employees are on standby should that happen and the department needs to ramp up services again. 

3 new coronavirus deaths reported in East Baton Rouge, bringing total to 9

The East Baton Rouge Coroner's Office on Friday reported three additional coronavirus deaths in the parish, bringing the total to nine.

"We're still sending six spray trucks out every night," he said. "We're covering quite a bit of area, targeting places where we're seeing the most activity. That's doable since truck drivers don't have to interact with anyone."

Vaeth said he also urged the pilots certified to operate the planes his department utilizes to spray residential areas to stay as healthy as they can in the coming weeks. 

Many of the pilots fall into the high-risk age group the coronavirus has been shown to have a fatal outcome if patients have underlining health conditions.   

"You have to have two pilots at a time because you're flying over urban areas," Vaeth said. "Right now, we can't get them tested unless their showing symptoms so I've urged them to stay at home in case we need them."

If you have questions about coronavirus, please email our newsroom at online@theadvocate.com.


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