This Woman Was Bit by a Mosquito and It Totally Destroyed Her Life — Here’s How

The focus of a lot of media coverage over the past couple of years has been mostly on the Zika virus. Understandably so, given its ferocious appetite and deadly consequences. But another virus that once captivated the headlines still wreaks havoc to this day: West Nile.

Insect-transmitted diseases like West Nile virus are on an almost uncontrollable rise across the country. Because of that, you may want to hear the story of Missy Moris; a California teacher who knows all too well the actual dangers of the disease. After her encounter with the nefarious virus, her life will never be the same.

Who is Missy Morris?

Missy Morris’ life was changed forever by a mosquito bite. | iStock

Missy Morris used to enjoy her time outside. She enjoyed having her morning coffee on the back porch. Sometimes her and her family would have dinner out there. She often slept with the windows wide open without a screen to interfere with the air flow.

This was before she learned the dangers of what a simple mosquito could do to her.

Next: Here’s why the mosquitoes and their friends are so dangerous.

 Vector-borne illnesses are spreading at an alarming rate

Mosquito in a Lab

Mosquitos spread a number of diseases. | Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty Images

Mosquitoes are prime vectors. That’s what you call a bug that spreads pathogens. This list also includes fleas and ticks. They are responsible for a lot of the most well-known pandemics, like plague. They have also contributed to the rise of newly discovered diseases like the Heartland disease and Bourbon virus disease.

Next: Here’s how mosquitoes are especially dangerous.

 The way mosquitoes feed is dangerous

Mosquito sucking blood on human skin

Mosquitos are a serious health threat. |

Morris’s bite went almost unnoticed that summer morning. Other than the common minor allergic reaction that we all get, no one would have known it happened.

When mosquitoes feed, they insert a needle-like straw to draw blood from their prey. They inject enzymes, natural blood thinners, and painkillers to keep the blood moving into their mouth and their prey unaware. Our bodies usually enflame the site where these foreign proteins have entered. That’s why we get a little red welt around the affected area.

Next: The range of symptoms for this virus range from mild to severe.

 West Nile kills frequently

Doctor and nurses wheeling patient

West Nile is very serious. | Sam Edwards

Most people can fight off the West Nile virus, and some get a really bad flu-like reaction. But a small portion of the population gets absolutely hammered by the disease. Since the virus’s discovery in 1999, more than 1,900 people have died from it. Missy Morris could have been one of those people.

Next: Here’s how the virus kills it’s victims and almost killed Morris.

West Nile virus can attack your spinal cord and brain

MRI brain scan

West Nile is a particularly brutal virus. |

The West Nile operates like any virus. It lacks enough to replicate on its own, so it has to steal genetic material from other cells. Once it has replicated enough it bursts out of the cell leaving a carcass in its wake. Less than 1% of people will develop a life-threatening like encephalitis or meningitis. That’s when there is severe swelling in the brain or the spinal fluid.

Next: This is what happened to Morris.

The virus attacked her spine and brain

Mosquito bite prevention

This kind of story is all too common in some parts of America. | John Moore/Getty Images

Most of the time a mosquito bite will leave behind just that little welt. The West Nile virus usually get’s stuck there for a bit. But eventually, it will break out and get to the rest of your body if it remained undetected by the body.

For Morris, the virus traveled to her spinal cord and brain. She developed a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit and had terrible diarrhea. Eventually, she found it difficult to move because her neurons weren’t firing properly. After the weekend was over, Morris was paralyzed and couldn’t answer simple questions.

Next: Here’s how you can protect yourself. 

Here’s how you can protect yourself from mosquito bites

Set of Mosquito Nets Frames, fiberglass window screen mesh

Keep your windows sceened. |

If you are seriously afraid of getting this rare affliction, then you should follow these steps rigorously.

  • Wear long-sleeved clothing.
  • Keep screens on your windows and stay in air-conditioned areas.
  • Use EPA registered insect repellents.
  • Treat your gear and clothing with permethrin.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net for added protection.

As always, stay safe this summer. The last thing you want is to be unlucky enough to catch any vector-borne illnesses like the West Nile virus.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!