West Nile survivor gives mosquito warning

Brenda Whitacre got the West Nile Virus from a mosquito bite last year. Now, she urges others to protect themselves.

Posted: Jun 5, 2019 2:39 PM
Updated: Jun 5, 2019 5:38 PM

CHICO, Calif. -- "I went running and I noticed. I brushed away some mosquitoes and then in the morning, I noticed I had 3 bites," said Brenda Whitacre.

Brenda Whitacre's jog in the park nearly cost her her life.

She soon learned she had West Nile Virus.

"Within 48 hours I had horrific flu-like symptoms, I was horribly sick," Whitacre said.

It usually takes 3-14 days after a bite for symptoms to show up.

Whitacre got tested right away.

"I knew in my heart, I kind of just did but it was shocking still because I know there was nothing they could do for it, no antidote, no antibiotic. It was a rough road, the first few months, I was bed-ridden," Whitacre said.

Whitacre said she doesn't regret spending time in the place she loved so much, but she does hope others can learn from what she went through.

"I was oblivious to it, and I have to admit I didn't wear repellant. So many people say they don't like the smell - well, there's fragrance-free, hypo-allergenic," Whitacre said.

Whitacre is one of 12 people in Butte County who got the virus last year from the Culex variety of mosquito.

So far, there are no cases of the virus in tested mosquitoes, birds or humans, but the season is just getting started.

Health experts say clear away standing water from your yard, and protect your skin at dusk and dawn, because the virus stays with you forever.

"If I were to ever get really sick, if my immunity goes down, it can reoccur because it's always in your system," Whitacre said.

This year, Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control tested more than 30 pools of 50 mosquitoes.

It has not found the virus yet this year.

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