A Haltom City mom hopes to warn others about the West Nile virus after her life turned upside down after a mosquito bite.
The West Nile virus landed Rebeca Barnett in the hospital for two weeks and she has been in constant pain. Because of all of the recent news about Zika, she believes people are losing sight of another very real threat.
Rebeca, 29, of Haltom City just wants to get back to chasing after her active 5-year-old daughter. Symptoms started suddenly several weeks ago
“I woke up with my toes and legs completely numb,” she said.
The numbness progressed rapidly up to her face.
“I wasn't able to chew properly,” Rebeca recalled. “I wasn't able to close my left eye all the way.”
After a battery of tests and a spinal tap, doctors determined she had Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder causing pain and severe muscle weakness.
What caused the syndrome was a mystery.
Doctors tested Rebeca for West Nile, thinking they'd rule out the mosquito-borne illness. But to everyone’s surprise, her blood work came back positive for the disease.
“We're being told that less than one percent of people that get West Nile turns into the Guillain-Barre Syndrome,” said Rebeca’s husband, Cody.
Prior to the diagnosis, Rebeca said she hadn't left Tarrant County and spent most of her time at home or at work in Haltom City.
“I don't remember getting bit by a mosquito. I did not do anything out of the normal,” explained Rebeca. “Did not go to a lake, to a park. Just drive from home to work. That's it.”
After two long weeks, Rebeca was released from the hospital on Saturday.
“I went from being completely independent to this,” she said. “And I don't know for sure that I can get back 100 percent.”
Although she's in pain and extremely weak, she's determined to share her story.
“Be cautious. Wear mosquito spray,” warned Rebeca. “It was just that one bite that triggered this whole thing. It's surreal.”
A GoFundMe page for Rebeca can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/rebecabarnett
Since April 1, six mosquitoes trapped in Haltom City tested positive for West Nile.