The time I thought I had West Nile Virus

A large mosquito bite occupies the area below my left knee. West Nile Virus outbreaks have been reported in 48 states, including North Carolina.
A large mosquito bite occupies the area below my left knee. West Nile Virus outbreaks have been reported in 48 states, including North Carolina.

It was a typical Sunday; I went to church and, since my boyfriend was home from school, went to his house to spend time with his family. His mom asked us if we would like to go watch his sister’s 4:00 soccer game.

It was a rather dreary day; it rained intermittently the remainder of the afternoon. The game was still on, however it was shortened to 40 minutes instead of the usual 90. My boyfriend and I arrived to the CASL fields soon after the game started.

After returning home, I noticed a large bump on leg. Based on the severity of the itch, it could only be one thing: a mosquito bite. I thought nothing of the bite on my left knee until my dad shared some very concerning news with me.

Approximately three weeks ago, a Wayne County man died from a West Nile Virus. While the virus is not native to the North Carolina area, several cases have been reported from various NC counties. More recently, on Aug. 29, an elderly woman passed away from the same virus.

The outbreak of this virus is centralized in Texas but has been reported in approximately 48 states this summer.

West Nile virus is spread when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then bites a person. While some may experience severe symptoms from the virus, some may not even know they are infected. The more advanced forms of the disease can be deadly.

Forgetting about the virus, I went about the rest of my day. The next morning I woke up with a headache and a scratchy throat. As the day went on, the headache passed. But when lunchtime came, I had no appetite. I ate half of a bagel and couldn’t bear to eat anything else. On the morning of Sept. 4, I woke up with a horrible stomach ache. Despite the nausea, I went to school. The queasiness did not pass until midday.

Upon returning home, the nausea came back. I made the mistake of googling the symptoms of the virus. Headaches, sore throat, nausea, and loss of appetite are all on the list. I ran downstairs and told my mom about my findings.

“You’re crazy,” she said to me. I obviously do not have West Nile virus, but for a good three hours I was completely convinced. I did not experience confusion, loss of consciousness, a coma, stiff neck or muscle weakness, all of which are symptoms of the more severe disease.

There are two lessons to be learned from this experience: wear bug spray, and never google anything related to health.

But in all seriousness, this is no joking matter. Take all precautions when going outside during this time. Remove standing water from flower pots or buckets, wear insect repellent, repair openings near windows and leave screens in. For more ways to prevent these pesky pests, visit the CDC website pertaining to West Nile.


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