Windsor mom, Kendra Chandler, tells how a mosquito bite -- and West Nile Virus -- changed her life

Woman suffered serious brain infection

WINDSOR, Colo. - Windsor mom, Kendra Chandler, takes precautions against mosquitoes.

"Always sunscreen and bug spray wherever we go," Chandler told 7NEWS reporter Jaclyn Allen as she sprayed mosquito repellent on her children before they played at a local park.

Part of it could be that she lives in Weld County, one of five Colorado counties where mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile Virus in June -- about a month earlier than normal, health officials say.

And part of it is that Chandler's been a lifelong mosquito magnet.

"They've always loved me," she said.

But Chandler is painfully aware that mosquitoes aren't just annoying pests.

She can tell how a mosquito bite forever changed her life.

She vividly remembers the day last October.

"The mosquitoes were really heavy that day. I kept shooing them off the children," Chandler said.

Her symptoms started a few days later.

"The tremors, the eye pain, shakiness…my whole body just hurt," Chandler said.

It got so bad, she was rushed to the emergency room.

A doctor suspected the worst.

"He just kind of knew right away. He said it's either going to be a brain infection or it's going to be West Nile," Chandler recalled.

Blood tests confirmed she had West Nile Virus.

Normally, symptoms last up to a week.

But Chandler had one of the rare cases where the virus causes a serious brain infection that can cause lifelong effects and no cure.

"This one is for my nerve damage," Chandler said as she took a pill.

"I'm now on an Alzheimer's medication for my memory problems."

Nearly nine months after contracting the virus, Chandler finds support from other West Nile survivors on Facebook.

"I look at it every single day," she said.

She's able to reach out to other people who understand the exhaustion, headaches and the daily impact on her life.

"[With] the pain, the sickness," she said, "I don't get to do as much with the children. I don't get to take them out and do things. It's hard to get out of bed some days."

This is a good day. She's able to laugh and have fun with her kids.

But the pain is always present.

"Joints are definitely hurting today," she said.

She wants to tell her story -- hoping she can warn others.

A mosquito bite changed her life.

"Not to scare people, but just to educate them and tell them how important it is to just to protect yourself and your children," Chandler said.

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