SHAWNEE, Kan — It’s been eleven years since West Nile Virus appeared in Missouri and Kansas. The virus carried by mosquitoes is still around making some people very sick.
When Patty Fraker went to see her chiropractor last September, she’d been sick for several days.
“It started out like extreme fatigue. Just like I’d been hit by a truck. Everything hurt,” recalled Patty.
There was a rash, too, and Dr. Kim Flaming noticed a bite on the back of Patty’s neck. Could she have a tick-borne disease?
“It looked more like a mosquito bite and it was very close to the spine,” said Dr. Flaming.
The chiropractor urged Patty to seek medical help. That led to a scary diagnosis. Meningitis.
“By this point, I’m pretty delirious. I don’t remember much of those first three days,” said Patty.
The meningitis was caused by West Nile Virus. Patty was in the hospital for 10 days and needed physical therapy for months.
She’s still dealing with the effects nearly a year later. There was nerve damage. She can’t raise her right arm without supporting it. She has to use her left arm much more now, and that’s resulting in pain there.
“These muscles are working too hard and that’s when I started to apply the acupuncture along with the adjustment,” said Dr. Flaming.
Patty says it’s helping. She focuses not on what West Nile took away, but what it gave her.
“I see life differently. I want to live life,” said Patty.
And she wants others to beware of mosquitoes. Now is the time for West Nile Virus.
“It just takes one bite from one mosquito that’s infected, so everybody really needs to wear protection,” said Patty.
She says to wear repellent even in your own backyard. That’s where the Shawnee woman thinks she was bitten.
Patty was one of 57 cases of West Nile in Kansas last year. So far this year, there have been four in Kansas including one death in Sedgwick County. There have been none in Missouri. But the season for infection continues through September.