HOUSTON – A 31-year-old woman who had a baby weeks ago is hospitalized at Houston Methodist St. John Hospital. Doctors think she is the second case of West Nile virus in the area.
She said she thinks she contracted the virus near her home in La Porte and wants everyone in that area to know the virus is there.
“Someone else has raised my son for the first three weeks of his life,” Kuehler said.
In July, Kuehler was in and out of the hospital with symptoms: disorientation, extreme pain and a rash so sensitive she couldn’t cradle her baby.
“I thought I was going to die. My family thought I was going to die. I was very … I’m still disoriented,” she said.
She was misdiagnosed until she met Dr. Husam Isaa.
“Pregnancy per se can suppress your immune system and put you at risk for certain infections,” Dr. Isaa said.
Dr. Isaa immediatly suspected West Nile virus. He says a couple of local cases have come from the La Porte area, where Kuehler is from, so he’s warning patients to prevent mosquito bites.
“These mosquitoes generally bite around sunset time,” he said. “So if you’re going to be out and about, you probably want to wear long sleeves. Make sure you use DEET for protection.”
Kuehler said she did everything she was supposed to do to protect herself and her family so now she’s furious that the city did not do more for her.
“I don’t feel like they’re doing enough and it’s not fair,” she said. “I’ve had to stop breastfeeding my newborn because I just can’t take a chance, and it’s just not fair.”
Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services said they do not spray for mosquitoes at random. They wait to confirm and target areas containing diseased mosquitoes. Or a neighborhood can pay to spray for themselves.
Public Health said they have not confirmed Kuehler to be a new West Nile case but her doctor said the results are positive.
Kuehler’s family started an online crowd fund to help with this unexpected wave of medical costs. If you would like to help, click here.
Kuehler said doctors are monitoring her baby for symptoms of the virus. He is home with family now.