PHOENIX ( — An Arizona man infected by the West Nile virus woke up paralyzed from the waist down.

Doctors call it an extremely rare reaction to the virus.

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“It’s the most excruciating pain ever. Not just the physical pain but the mental [pain]. It’s rough,” said Nick Cornelius, who was bitten by a mosquito, and endured days of flu-like symptoms.

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Doctors don’t know if Cornelius will ever regain the full use of his legs.

West Nile is spread by infected mosquitoes, and according to public health officials, those susceptible to most serious illness include elderly individuals with compromised immune systems.

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To help protect yourself against the virus, doctors suggest eliminating all standing water on your property, wear long sleeves and long pants, and use bug spray.