By Denise G. Nelesen, LCSW
West Nile Hits Close to Home
...Diane Culverson doesn’t remember the bite and doesn’t recall having had a welt. But she was immobilized by headaches. After four days of thinking she would get better, her husband took her to the hospital where she was admitted. They treated her for bacterial meningitis; she was later diagnosed as having West Nile virus.
.....Diane, who works with Aging & Independence Services’s case management programs, knew about West Nile from materials received from the County’s Vector Control, which is in the building next door to AIS.
......“But I figured it couldn’t happen to me,” she says. At age 57, active and healthy, Diane never thought she was a candidate to be harmed by this mosquito-borne virus. She and her husband love sitting outside after work and never thought there was any danger like West Nile virus lurking in their La Mesa backyard.
......The mosquito bit her in mid-September and after she returned to work in mid-October, her right arm was still weak as the virus had affected her muscles. She had to hold a glass with two hands because her arms would shake.
......After Diane’s incident was reported, Vector Control workers went through her yard and caught infected mosquitoes. Then they canvassed the neighborhood, looking for mosquito-breeding areas and educating people about the virus.
......Diane is fine now, lucky that permanent damage wasn’t done by the virus. She is definitely cautious about leaving any water for mosquitoes to breed. She no longer uses drip trays for plants. Any buckets are immediately emptied, dried and put away. And she refills her dog’s bowl every day.
......"I try to do my best to keep water away,” she says. “And I try to make sure neighbors have the same information because mosquitoes don’t just stay in one yard”.
WEST NILE VIRUS QUIZ
......1. How can you get West Nile virus?
.....2. How can you protect yourself from mosquito bites?
.....3. People over age 50 or those with weak immune systems are at the highest risk of developing serious illnesses from West Nile virus.
.....4. When are mosquitoes most active?
.....5. What should you do if you see a dead bird?
Answers: 1. B; 2. F; 3. True; 4. A; 5.D