FOWLER (WWJ/AP) – A 10-year-old Michigan boy paralyzed last year after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the West Nile virus is a “walking miracle,” his mother said.

Travis Thelen has “far exceeded expectations,” said his mother, Marti Thelen. “The doctor said he’s never seen progress like this before.”

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The Fowler boy was diagnosed with West Nile by physicians at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing on Sept. 6.

Travis complained about pain above the knee to mid-thigh, and as the disease advanced, his left leg became paralyzed. He initially was sent home, but then began to lose strength in his left arm, and his left hand curled so that he couldn’t straighten it.

Travis was re-hospitalized and given intravenous immunoglobulin treatments, which stopped the disease’s progression.

Thelen said her son worked hard at his recovery. When the doctor told him to do an exercise 10 times, Travis did 20, she said.

Now he’s jumping on a backyard trampoline and this week is attending a sports camp and playing basketball, baseball and football.

“He never quit,” Marti Thelen told the Sentinel-Standard of Ionia. “Nothing stopped him. Even pain was tolerable. He loved pain, because he knew (pain meant) things would start to come back.”

Travis tires more easily than he used to and gets the occasional headache and dizzy spell, but he is pretty much back to his old self.

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He’s looking forward to starting fifth grade in the fall. But first there’s summer vacation, when he can spend more outside time playing with friends.

“I can run now,” Travis told the newspaper. “I don’t have to sit in the wheelchair anymore.”

Thelen said: “It’s just amazing. He’s a walking miracle.”

West Nile Virus is a potentially serious illness that is spread by infected mosquitoes. State health officials say less than one percent of people who contract the virus actually get sick, but complications from the disease can be debilitating — especially for the elderly, very young and people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms can include fever, nausea, disorientation, dizziness and drowsiness.

There is no specific treatment for West Nile Virus infections. In mild cases, people experience symptoms such as fever and aches that pass on their own, although even healthy people have become sick for several weeks. In more severe cases, people usually need to go to the hospital where they can receive supportive treatment including intravenous fluids, help with breathing and nursing care.

Health officials say 2012 was the worst year for West Nile Virus infections in Michigan since 2003.

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