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Mosquito Bite Leaves Woman Paralyzed From Neck Down During Australian Vacation

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Jun 04, 2013 01:46 PM EDT
Mosquito bite
Scientists have learned that by genetically modifying the way a mosquito responds to odors they can hinder the insects’ ability to sniff out humans among other warm-blooded prey. (Photo : Flickr/ dr_relling/ (CC BY 2.0))

What was meant to be a relaxing vacation, turned into a dangerous one. A British tourist in Australia was left paralyzed from the neck down and in a wheelchair for three weeks - by a mosquito bite.

Natasha Porter, 23, began losing the feeling in her toes after the insect struck two weeks into her vacation, the Daily Mail notes. Shortly afterwards, she was left with no feeling in her arms and soon was unable to move from the neck down.

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Porter was in Western Australia in March 2012 and spent seven months working in a cafe in order to save up for a trip down the country's east coast. During this time, she was bitten by the mosquito and she began to notice numbness in her toe two weeks after arriving in Cairns, Australia.

She went to a pharmacist to get it checked out and was initially told the condition as an allergic reaction and also attributed it to stress. The situation grew dire as the paralysis quickly moved to her hands two days later.

"Every time I went to sleep at night I wondered if I might not wake up," said Porter. "All I could think was I'm 23 - I don't want to die."

Porter then went to the hospital and they finally found the mosquito bite had triggered a condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which the body's immune system attacks itself.

"I was so scared. I remember feeling guilty because I knew I was going to have to call my parents. I was thinking, 'How do I call them up and say I might be dead in a few hours?'."

Miraculously, Porter gradually began to get feeling back and has now made a full recovery. She is back in England working as an administration assistant, and she is planning to finish the round the world trip she began, and to climb to Everest base camp with boyfriend.

"I don't want to waste any time anymore and I hope I have become a better person. I just want to live as much as I can, spend as much time with my friends and family, just enjoying my life."

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