BY ADRIAN MILLER
A VIRULENT strain of a debilitating brain disease has infected at least three Angourie residents and is thought to have affected up to six people in total in the Angourie-Wooloweyah area.
There have been three confirmed cases of viral encephalitis in the Angourie area and at least one at Wooloweyah, with one of the affected people still ill eight weeks after the initial diagnosis.
The North Coast Public Health Unit describes viral encephalitis as an inflammation of the brain and can cause, among other things, high temperature, sensitivity to light and paralysis.
There is a high risk of permanent brain damage for babies under 12 months and people over 55.
Some of the viruses capable of causing encephalitis are rubella, measles and Epstein-Barr.
Angourie residents Bryce Young and Amy Darveniza have both contracted encephalitis, but a cause has not been determined.
Bryce's mother, Ti Young, said it was a scary experience.
"He just got really, really sick ... really, really quickly," she said. "He got high temperatures and bad headaches, which we thought was a migraine at first. We were picking his Dad up from the airport in Brisbane and he was so bad we had to go to the hospital on the Gold Coast.
"We ended up coming back and saw the doctor and went straight back to Lismore Base Hospital where he spent three days on a drip."
Ms Darveniza said her experience was just as frightening.
"I couldn't stand up and my vision was really blurred and my head was really swollen and felt like jelly at the back of my head," she said.
"I found it hard walking up the stairs and just turning 90 degrees was difficult."
Ms Darveniza first noticed symptoms two months ago, and has still not fully recovered.
"It's been going on since halfway through March, about eight weeks now. I'm feeling better, but I'm not fully recovered," she said.
Despite numerous attempts, The Daily Examiner was unable to obtain comment from a local doctor.