LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - This week, state health department officials reported two new cases of West Nile Virus. They come from Pearl River and Forrest counties, bringing the total number in Mississippi this year to 15.
A Long Beach woman who beat the deadly virus knows the pain and fear one seemingly innocent bite can bring. Shannon McCulley has four children and non-stop errands to run, keeping her constantly on the go. She is active and healthy today, but that was certainly not the case in 2006.
"I was very scared, I really wanted to die," McCulley remembered. I was so sick, I wanted to die."
Practically overnight, the young mother became gravely ill and it only got worse. She had severe headaches, body aches, blurred vision and slurred speech.
"I wasn't myself, I was so sick I was throwing up I was dehydrated I couldn't keep any food down, anything to drink, I was so thirsty."
Thinking it was the flu, Shannon went more for than a week with these symptoms and woke up in the hospital. She spent three of the worse weeks of her life there. It turns out a bite from a mosquito infected with West Nile also caused Meningitis, brain and spinal cord swelling, along with Bells Palsy that paralyzed half of her face.
For her husband and young children, it was terrifying.
"Coming to see me at the hospital saying, 'Momma, I don't want you to die.' They've never seen me so sick."
It took a whole year for her to physically recover from the West Nile Virus, but it left one lasting impression: a new vigor for living.
"100 percent, I love life. I take care of myself, I exercise, I run every day. It changes the way you think and makes you want to take care of yourself better."
She urges everyone to use bug spray with Deet anytime your outdoors. It's also important not to leave standing water around your home where mosquitoes breed.