At least four people have now been infected with the West Nile virus in the state of New Mexico, health officials confirmed.
“I’m afraid for anyone else to get it,” said Denise Jojola. “I just want people to be aware of what it does to you.”
Jojola was bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus in 2016, and since then she has experienced long-term side effects she never thought she’d have to face.
“I have horrible, horrible neck pain,” Jojola said. “During the night, I get muscle cramps in my legs, my hands, my arms, my feet. It effected my vision. I get headaches really bad.”
The long-term side effects that came from the virus caused some of the worst pain she has experienced and severe cases, like Denise’s are common.
“Those severe neuro invasive cases where people get really sick, those are the ones we’re really concerned about that can be life threatening,” said Mark DiMenna, with the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department. “And even people who make a recovery, sometimes it’s not a full recovery.”
In some cases, getting the virus can be fatal.
“The strain typically found in the U.S. now, is actually, the mutation has made it a little more virall, so it’s more likely to cause severe disease,” DiMenna said.
Jojola hopes sharing her story will motivate people to spray themselves and stay alert.
“The side effects from West Nile are horrible,” Jojola said. “I’m not over it, and I don’t know if I ever will be.”