Recent CU-Boulder Graduate Offers Advice After Bout Of West Nile Virus

first_imgAt first she thought it was the flu.Just a week earlier, Shannon Cox Baker had gone on a white-water rafting trip on the Colorado River near the Colorado-Utah border. She was celebrating her recent graduation from the MBA program at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the start of a new career as a green-building consultant.Now, on July 25, she felt nauseous, had no appetite and her body ached all over. In the shower, she flinched as the water hit her skin. When her husband tried to give her a bear hug, she pulled away.”I just felt really bad,” said the 29-year-old Atlanta native and Boulder entrepreneur. “I was completely exhausted and very sore. You know when you’ve got an infection, when something is making you not feel good.”A few days later she broke out in a rash that covered her entire body except for her face, and Cox Baker knew something was going on. A friend who works for Boulder’s parks and open space office advised her to see a doctor about a possible West Nile virus infection after hearing of her symptoms.Health care providers at CU-Boulder’s Wardenburg Health Center confirmed what her friend had suspected: Cox Baker had become another confirmed case of West Nile virus in Boulder County and the only CU-Boulder student to contract the disease so far this year. Now she is sharing her story in hopes of helping other students and area residents avoid the mosquito-borne virus.”If my friend hadn’t told me, I don’t think the thought would have occurred to me,” Cox Baker said.A self-described “Boulder girl” who runs around in sandals and shorts, Cox Baker said she and her husband have enjoyed the Colorado outdoors this summer and long evenings with friends on the couple’s shady backyard patio. A ditch runs past the house in central Boulder, and Cox Baker said it’s more likely a West Nile-carrying mosquito bit her at home than during the rafting trip.”Nobody else on the rafting trip got sick,” she said. None of the couple’s friends have fallen sick following the couple’s backyard get-togethers.So far this year, 55 people have come down with West Nile virus in Boulder County and two elderly men have died. A total of 255 cases have been reported statewide, including four deaths, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.For Cox Baker, the good news is her body has become immune to West Nile virus and she likely will not suffer another bout. Now she advises acquaintances to heed the warnings of health experts who warn people to avoid contact with mosquitoes at dawn and dusk through the end of September. People also are advised to eliminate standing water and to cover up and use insect repellants with DEET when outdoors.”If you think you have the flu, and it feels like it strikes out of nowhere, just take the precaution and go to the doctor,” she said. “I would just be aware of the symptoms for sure. If you get a rash, that’s definitely an indicator.”For more information about West Nile, call the Colorado Health Emergency Line at 1 (877) 462-2911 or visit http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/dc/zoonosis/wnv/. Published: Sept. 4, 2007 Share Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-maillast_img

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