Ben Russell, NBC 5 News
Rhonda Petty spoke to NBC 5 about how she learned she was carrying West Nile virus and the diagnosis changed her life.
A Flower Mound woman is still reeling from a diagnosis last week that revealed she not only has West Nile virus, but also the neuroinvasive form of the virus, the more serious strain.
"I'm not gonna get better right now," Rhonda Petty, 52, said of what her doctor said. "They said it could take [up] to, it will take up to a year, possibly longer."
Petty told NBC 5 she was diagnosed in late September, more than one month after she started feeling sick.
"I knew something wasn't right, but I just didn't know what was wrong," Petty said. "But I didn't think I needed to go to the doctor."
Petty had been experiencing pain, particularly in her back and legs, and was suffering from severe headaches and a fever until Sunday, Sept. 22, when she said she was unable to get out of bed and was running a fever of 101.5 degrees.
Petty's daughter called for an ambulance which rushed her to Texas Health Resources Flower Mound Presbyterian Hospital. A doctor in the emergency room recognized Petty's symptoms and ordered a test for West Nile virus.
"And she came in and told me I tested positive and I said 'What?' And she said it again, and I was like, 'Are you serious?'" Petty said.
Petty now takes a daily battery of pills, antibiotics to treat the pneumonia she's also dealing with and pain pills to handle her aches and pains.
West Nile virus has killed four people in Texas in 2013, far fewer than the 89 Texans killed in 2012.
The neuroinvasive form of West Nile virus can have a crippling effect on people, with some patients having to relearn how to walk and perform other basic functions.