How a mosquito bite led to paralysis — and turned this teacher's life upside down

From the LA Times - West Nile virus in California.

...Morris, 55, did not know she’d been bitten, but her body did. A small red welt rose on her skin, an everyday allergic reaction to the foreign proteins in the bug’s saliva.

For the last 11 months, health officials in the United States have focused on the spread of the Zika virus from Brazil, yet epidemiologists and vector control experts in California continue to be alarmed by the steady presence of the West Nile virus in Los Angeles and Orange counties. ...

...Inside Morris’ spinal fluid, the virus continued to replicate, destroying neurons as it burst out of the cells it entered. Her body began to mount a counterattack as dangerous as the assault.

The spleen, the immune system’s command center, began flooding her body with white corpuscles, lymphocytes. One class, B-cells, prepare a long-term defense, producing antibodies that can swarm the virus and prevent it from commandeering other cells, a process that takes up to 10 days. T-cells take more immediate action, swarming the sites of infection. ...


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7 Replies

  • How shocking! Poor woman! I may be mis-remembering but didn't we have someone on the site recently who'd had a similar experience?


  • Yes, I believe it was about a month ago. Someone from Chicago?

  • My brother, who lives in the Los Angeles area, had West Nile Virus two summers ago. He, fortunately, has completely recovered, but he went through a short period of it affecting his ability to walk and a longer period of being quite ill.

  • Worrying that this poor woman provides her visitors with DEET pesticide protection when others have suffered ill effects from it - frying pan and fire come to mind. We are made up of organic material like the bugs and we are creating a build up of chemicals over our life time that eventually tips over our own body's protective immune resources.

    The better protection against insect bites is to cover up with clothes made from cool natural fibres and any exposed skin wipe with fresh lemon juice - insects hate it and it lasts about 5 hours before needing to be reapplied. It works for me.

  • There are non-deet products that are effective against mosquitoes and ticks. Sawyers is the one I use and lasts 12 hours. And as you said, cover up.

  • PLEASE don't wipe down your skin with lemon juice if you will be in the sun!!!!! The daughter of a friend was doing something with lemon juice, then went out in the sun. The juice caused terrible blisters on both hands. Fortunately, a nurse in the ER knew of this possible effect, so the cause was diagnosed right away. It took quite a while for her hands to heal.

  • I was wondering about this lady's story and CLL. There is no mention of being immunocompromised. Her age may have been a contributing factor but I havent heard stats about under 50 yrs.

    Anyway, sounds as if the reporter is now assuming she carries immunity to West Nile so Im guessing this isnt a CLL case.

    My experience , which I posted about earlier (Chicago) has been directly correlated by my doctors to my CLL immune vulnerability. Just to update, I am progressing and have my driving privileges back and have only the retina problem, weakness in my right hand, and some ballance issues. Im hoping to be free of all of this by Sept. One year out from infection.

    The lady in the article certainly had a difficult time. Acute flaccid paralysis is not uncommon with the encephalitis (similar to polio symptoms) but she may regain most if not all function with therapy and time. I wish her all the best.

    For people with CLL, mosquito protection is the only way and I suspect that despite my WNV in Sept. 2016 I will not be immune to WNV next year. We CLLers must be vigilent. 🙂

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