DENVER, (KDVR) — Auriel Piscani was a perfectly healthy 49-year-old until a mosquito bite changed her life forever.
The year was 2006, and Auriel woke up one morning in her Fort Collins home to a bizarre sight.
“I just woke up one day and was getting ready to go to work, and I looked in the mirror and went wow, and the whites of my eyes were really bright yellow.”
Piscani went to the doctor, who quickly sent her to Poudre Valley Hospital for more tests.
“They ran a couple tests, they admitted me into the hospital, and within 48 hours I was in a coma,” she said.
She said doctors knew she was dying from sudden liver and kidney failure, but they couldn’t figure out why.
After months and months in the hospital, she was placed into hospice, as doctors prepared her husband for the worst.
“The doctors told him there’s no recovering from this, she’s going to die,” said Piscani.
Eventually, blood work revealed Piscani had West Nile virus.
Despite multiple near-death moments, Piscani survived the ordeal, but not without some major life changes.
“You run a terrifically high fever and it paralyzes different parts of your body,” she said. “In my case, it was my legs. So my legs are paralyzed, my whole left side is weaker than my right side.”
According to CDPHE, 19 Coloradans are currently dealing with neurologic symptoms from West Nile virus.
While cases remain rare, Piscani is hoping Coloradans will take it seriously, especially in a year when mosquitos are so prevalent.
“You have to tell these people that there’s a real danger. I mean you could go out and hit a bucket of golf balls and wind up dead!” she said. “I’m hoping that people will just be aware of how dangerous it actually is, and yes, it can kill you, quickly.”