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Confusion Continues Over Teen's West Nile Virus Diagnosis

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    The mother of a 15-year-old Arlington girl says there has been confusion over the last year about her daughter's West Nile Virus diagnosis. (Published Sunday, July 28, 2013)

    The mother of a 15-year-old Arlington girl says there has been confusion over the last year about her daughter's diagnosis of West Nile virus.

    “Its been quite a year,” said Ebonie Conner, mother of Jordan Conner, who is still recovering from a near-death illness.

    “I don't want to say [it has been] hell, because hell would be life without Jordan,” said Ebonie Conner. “But you can't put into words – it overwhelms people.”

    This time last year, it seemed Connor's daughter had caught a cold.  She suffered from headaches, vomiting and numbness throughout her body and was admitted to Cook Children's Hospital.

    Conner recalled doctors telling her that they had given her daughter every test they had but were no closer to figuring out what was ailing her.  Then, finally, they received a diagnosis, though, a difficult one.

    “[A doctor] told me Jordan has West Nile meningoencephalitis. Jordan may die. We don't know,” recalled Connor.

    Meningoencephalitis is a disorder that can stem from West Nile virus. It resembles meningitis and can result in brain inflammation and, according to Connor, can be terrifying and overwhelming for the victim and the victim's family alike.

    “For your kid to be sick, and for it to be suddenly, and for it to be severe, and you've got to deal with it all, and then it's hard to explain, and then it's rare, and then it's something rare that's on the headlines,” Connor said.

    About a month into her daughter’s treatment, Connor said, “All of a sudden, out of the blue, I get a call from a doctor saying, ‘Miss Conner, Jordan doesn't have West Nile.’”

    But Connor said the doctors didn't change their official diagnosis and kept treating her daughter, who spent the next few months getting better, only to relapse and be readmitted to the hospital.

    Meanwhile, her mom hoped for the best – West Nile virus or otherwise.

    “I don't care what you call it, you know what I mean? I want to hear you call it healed. I want to hear you call it recovered,” said Conner. “We learned last year that life is too short. So, any day that she can be a normal teen, I give her that freedom and we take it one day at a time.”

    The Conner family has received donations, from basic necessities to thousands of dollars. Conner, a single mother to Jordan and an 11-year-old boy, said that has helped her stay afloat over the last year.

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