It has been three years since Katherine Kinsey prayed, pleaded, and urged her son to fight the virus that was trying to kill him.
It was during a field trip to a nature preserve that her 14-year-old son James Hatfield, then 11, contracted Eastern Equine Encephalitis. The virus causes inflammation of the brain. It begins with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Kinsey said she never thought a mosquito could cause her family so much harm.
“They (doctors) told us that we should go get a lottery ticket because people don't usually get this virus, and the ones that do they don't survive.”
James said his headache was so bad at the onset it felt like someone “smashed him with a hammer.”
It took three months for James to make a full recovery. During that time, Kinsey said her son was in the Intensive Care Unit for thee days and slipped into a coma for six excruciatingly long hours.
“Then he woke up,” Kinsey said. “They were pretty sure it was going to go the one way because we just had no answers as to what was wrong and he just kept declining, so they were pretty sure it wasn't going to end up well. He had angels watching out for him.”
With 14 confirmed travel related cases of Zika in Florida, Kinsey hopes everyone heeds her warning and wears mosquito repellent. Although, the Zika virus only gives adults mild symptoms that include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eye). The risk to pregnant mothers is real. It has been associated with birth defects in newborns.
“It is so easy to pick up a bottle of repellent,” Kinsey said. “It could save someone from what we had to go through.”