Utah mother speaks after son contracts West Nile virus, develops severe illness

Health officials address state's first confirmed case of West Nile virus in 2019

OGDEN, Utah (ABC4 News) – The most common way to get infected with the West Nile virus is through a mosquito bite.

Tuesday, a woman told ABC4 News her son contracted the West Nile virus. She said he was healthy until one day she got a call saying he was sick with a debilitating headache. 

“We get to him and he’s collapsed in his yard. He’s immobile. So, my healthy son is now immobile trembling with a 6-inch tremor sweating profusely and absolutely confused.”

Ryan’s mother said they rushed him to the hospital where it took four days for medical experts to determine it was the West Nile virus.

She said Ryan can no longer eat or walk and has trouble speaking.

The health department says most people who are infected with West Nile virus do not develop symptoms. Symptoms include headache, body aches, vomiting or rash.  Less than one percent of people infected will develop a serious neurologic illness, such as meningitis, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Ways to protect yourself against West Nile Virus

  • Use DEET permethrin, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus when going outdoors
  • After dusk, wear long sleeves and pants
  • Drain standing water in yards (old tires, potted plant trays, pet dishes, toys, buckets, etc.).
  • Keep roof gutters clear of debris.
  • Clean and stock garden ponds with mosquito-eating fish or mosquito dunks.
  • Ensure door and window screens are in good condition so mosquitoes cannot get inside.
  • Keep weeds and tall grass cut short; adult mosquitoes look for these shady places to rest during the hot daylight hours.


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