The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported the first case of the West Nile Virus in Kansas Tuesday. According to KDHE, the case is in Republic County. But a Hutchinson woman told Eyewitness News she should be counted too since the Reno County Health Department has contacted her after her West Nile diagnosis.
Jennifer Bowman said her West Nile Virus diagnosis was something she never would have expected. She said she heard about it before but never thought it would happen to her. She said it all started with a headache.
“I never get headaches so I didn't really anything of it,” Bowman said. “But then I went to the doctor because it started getting gradually worse.”
She said the doctors gave her pain medicine but it didn’t help and she returned back to the doctor as it got even worse than before.
“Then I got a body rash,” she said. “It was from head to toe. My face and my neck itched. Then I went back for that. They had no idea what it was and then I went to the ER because I couldn't take it anymore I couldn't lift my head off the couch.”
She said the Emergency Room didn’t end well either. At first, she said doctors kept giving her pain medication but it wasn’t helping. She said one doctor told her that her red and white blood counts were off leading doctors to believe she had bacterial meningitis. Bowman said doctors told her they had to do a spinal tap to test for it and if they didn’t and she did have meningitis, she could die in a matter of days. But the test came back negative and she said doctors told her she may have just been having muscle spasms.
“Almost three weeks of symptoms,” Bowman said. “And the doctors had no idea and I kept telling them something was wrong.”
Bowman said it took a suggestion from a woman at work for her to ask doctors to test her for West Nile.
“They were like, ‘why do you want to be tested for that?’ I was like, ‘well, we are outside a lot and these are the symptoms.’ So they tested me and Friday they called me and said it's positive,” she said.
Bowman said most of her symptoms are now gone, though she still has tingling and numbness in her hands and feet and a headache on occasion.
“I am feeling a lot better,” she said. “I don't feel like I'm dying anymore.”
Bowman said she and her husband ride four wheelers and go camping and she rides horses. But she said she thinks she got West Nile at a pond party in McPherson County.
It is required for health care providers to tell the state when they have any confirmed cases of West Nile. Eyewitness News expects to hear from KDHE soon.
KDHE says West Nile virus can be spread to people through bites from infected mosquitoes, but it is not contagious from person to person.
Symptoms range from a slight headache and low-grade fever to swelling of the brain or brain tissue and in rare cases, death.
People who have had West Nile virus before are considered immune.