A single bite, then within days West Nile victim couldn’t lift a spoon

September 26, 2018

The welt on Sue Adkins neck was itchy and annoying but didn’t stick around. A few days and it was gone.

But then came the flu, with its aches, fever and nausea. Within three days, the then 62-year-old she was so weak, she couldn’t lift a spoon to eat Cheerios. The next day, while a friend was visiting, both arms went numb. A trip to the hospital ended in a stay, and though it took a week, doctors eventually diagnosed her with West Nile.

Adkins’ case reflects one of the scary aspects of West Nile – a single bite is all that’s needed to become infected, public health officials say.

It took Adkins about a year to recover, and she still has aches and pains that she attributes to contracting West Nile in 2011. But she’s able to enjoy the outdoor life she knew before — much of her time is spent gardening. (She put in about 18 tomato plants this year; back in the day she would plant 100 to 120 tomatoes.)

Less than 1 percent of those infected with West Nile become as ill as Adkins — so severely sick they require hospitalization.

But Adkins sees herself as one of the lucky ones. Some people die from the disease and some are crippled by it.

“They say I could have died from it,” she recalls. “A lot of people have been worse off than me.”

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