Mid-South West Nile Victim Tells Story of Pain
(Memphis) – Every time 19-year-old Kristen Maness and her mom go for a walk, they are armed with mosquito repellent.
“We do a lot of bug spray,” Lisa Bowles said.
It’s a routine that started last October after a mosquito bite nearly killed the teen.
“I got a headache on Tuesday and it last til Saturday and it finally went away and the next Tuesday I woke up I had a rash everywhere,” Maness said.
On her way to the doctor, another symptom started. This one frightened her.
“My legs quit working ,” she said. “I tried to get in the car but I just couldn’t pick it (my leg) up.”
Kristen went to the hospital hoping for answers.
“They did an MRI. I had inflammation of the brain and all the way down my spinal column and they didn’t know why.”
“All five days she was in the hospital they kept coming in asking has she been out of the country? has she been bit by a tick?,” her mother said. “Finally I said could it be West Nile? They said no it’s too late in the season.”
But blood tests would prove it was the source of her problems.
It’s one example of how West Nile Virus has affected people since it came to the U.S. in 1999.
Kirsten’s virus turned into West Nile Fever which is why this perfectly healthy teen became so sick so fast.
“She never got sick,” her mom said. “I was about to lose my daughter because they said you have no idea how close she came to dying.”
A year later Kristen is better, but still recovering. Her leg still isn’t strong. In fact she changed her major in college from radiation because she knows she won’t be able to have a career where she stands all day.
She and her mother are now warning others about the mosquito born illness.
“We deal with mosquitoes everyday and you never think that little tiny thing could kill you,” Bowles said.
So far this year, 87 people have died from West Nile in the U.S. according to the CDC.
There have been 1, 993 cases across the country.
Ten cases have been reported in Tennessee.