My son the Petri dish

Now that I’m fairly sure he’s not going to die, I can tell you that my youngest, a senior in high school, has both mononucleosis and West Nile Fever. This seems like overkill, and somewhat unfair.

What I’ve learned about West Nile:

  • About 80% of the people who are infected experience no symptoms at all
  • About 20% of the people who are infected get WN Fever, a disease that is curiously like mono, with fever, headache, body aches, skin rash or swollen lymph glands
  • About 1% of the people who are infected get WN encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or WN meningitis (inflammation of the meninges, the tissue surrounding the brain & spinal cord) – this is the scary West Nile
  • Katja


  1. Penny

    Heavens, Katja! I’ve known someone in that 1% (she recovered from the crisis phase, but she’ll have some lasting neurological issues as a “souvenir”). Sounds like your boy is getting better now, good to hear that. Mono is bad enough when you’re young, let alone added to something more serious. Best wishes for his continued improvement.

  2. Christiane

    Gosh, Katja! I wish you and your family all the best and that you son get well soon.

  3. Kellie

    OMG! You should have let us know so we could vibe for you!! I’m glad to hear he’s getting better. {{{hugs}}} and {{{vibes}}}

  4. Katja (Post author)

    Thanks, everyone! He had one scary painful neck/killer headache day, but it resolved and wasn’t meningitis. That was day I discovered that my husband (who was at home with him) didn’t know that a stiff neck with fever and headache could be a sign of meningitis – I was calling home every two hours trying to decide if it was time to go the emergency room, and my husband was trying to figure out how to get my son to go to school. We were definitely living in different universes that day.

    But he is much better, mostly very fatigued right now.

  5. wheelchairdancer

    So glad to hear that he is getting better. Sending energy for all of you.


  6. Susan

    Whew! We Minnesotans know about West Nile and I am soooo very glad that all seems to going well.

  7. Greg

    I hope your son recovers quickly, you and your family are in my thoughts.

  8. Peter Tan

    Here’s wishing him a speedy recovery.

  9. Katja

    Thank you so much. He is definitely better – still tired, but better.

  10. Kay

    West Nile is, indeed, some scary stuff. I’m glad he’s getting better and I hope the full recovery is smooth.


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