NEWTON (CBS) – She’s putting a face to the agony of West Nile Virus. For the past two weeks, 32-year-old Kerry Murphy has been through medical hell and back battling the mosquito-born illness.
“How could this happen, how could this happen to me,” she tells WBZ-TV in an exclusive interview. The Wednesday before Labor Day weekend she came down with severe flu-like symptoms. “I would be so overcome with chills, so freezing, my teeth would be literally chattering.”
She went through a battery of blood tests at two different medical facilities trying to treat her symptoms, one concluding it was a deer tick-born illness. “They gave me an antibiotic and sent me on my way,” she says.
But the fever and aches persisted to the point where she was admitted to St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and the diagnosis was finally made. She says, “I was still running the fever, my eyes were yellow, I had a rash all over my body.”
Murphy believes she was bitten by a mosquito while running after dusk along Commonwealth Avenue in Newton. “There were a few bites around my chin area and my neck, but I didn’t think anything of them,” she says.
Aware of the need to take precautions outdoors, Murphy says she had applied bug spray, though not heavily on her face. She says her case is a testament to the fact, “it can happen to anyone”. “I was lucky enough to have an immune system strong enough to fight this off, but some people are not,” she says, “if it’s compromised in any way in can be serious.”
Massachusetts now has 14 human cases of West Nile Virus in the midst of one of the most severe outbreaks of the disease nationwide. Until now, Murphy says she knew little about it, and will likely feel the effects for months to come. “There’s no specific miracle drug for this disease,” she says. “It has to run its course which is the difficult part.”