"Why West Nile Virus Is So Scary"

"The day that everything changed was a broiling Thursday in July—95 degrees, the kind of dry heat that Sacramento Valley residents are used to. If you have to work outside, you do it before noon, swathed in long sleeves and pants to keep the sun at bay and the mosquitoes from eating you alive.

On this day, however, my grandmother, an active and spritely woman even at 80, never made it outside to the garden. She mentioned at breakfast that she wasn't feeling well, and my grandfather suggested that she take a nap in the sunroom. When he finally woke her up at 4 p.m., she still felt ill and feverish. The nearest emergency room is more than an hour's drive from their 20-acre farm in rural northern California, but they decided to make the trip. The doctors performed a CAT scan, gave my grandmother some Tylenol, and sent her home.

When my grandparents finally got back at around 11 p.m., my grandfather tried to convince my grandmother to eat something; she said that she could manage a piece of toast. A few days later he found the toast, one bite taken out of it, abandoned in the microwave."

Brittany Patterson reports for Atlantic/Climate Desk May 19, 2014.

Thursday, May 22, 2014