West Nile symptoms that doctors say need emergency attention - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

West Nile symptoms that doctors say need emergency attention

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EAST TEXAS (KLTV) -

There are now 25 confirmed West Nile cases in the East Texas region.

According to the State Health Services web sites Angelina County and Gregg County have the most confirmed cases of West Nile. A total of nine East Texas counties have patients diagnosed with either the neuroinvasive form of disease or the fever.

As of 6 p.m. Monday, confirmed West Niles cases were as follows:

Angelina County- 6

Gregg County- 6; 1 resulting in death

Smith County- 4

Van Zandt County- 3

Lamar County- 2

Henderson County- 1

Panola County- 1

Rusk County- 1

Harrison County- 1

Health officials say they are still investigating more suspected cases.

East Texas Medical Center Emergency Room physician Chris Hable says for most people, it's hard to tell if you have West Nile because the symptoms are not specific. He says the most common symptoms are fevers, headaches, body aches, sometimes rashes and sometimes sore throats... making it difficult to distinguish between West Nile and a cold.

As more people are wondering if they have West Nile Virus, Dr. Hable says ETMC is beginning to see more people showing up at the emergency room wanting a quick West Nile test. But, he says the emergency room can't give you an immediate answer.

"It's not a test that you just want to come in and say, 'I want to be tested for it,' because it can be painful and costly. It is best suited for the primary care doctor," he says.

Dr. Hable says a West Nile test can be taken by blood or lumbar (drawing spinal fluid). He also says the test must be sent off so the results are not immediate.

However, if you have a specific combination of symptoms, Dr. Hable says the emergency room is where you need to be.

"We're talking about patients with high fever, confusion, stiff neck, not acting like themselves, weakness, numbness... those are the patients we need to see here in the emergency room," he says.

"It's out there right now and we urge people to take precautions," says George Roberts, director of the North East Texas Public Health District.

Roberts says there are still about six more weeks left in mosquito season.

"This year has been wetter. We've had a wetter spring, summer and fall. The temperatures have not been as hot as they were last year, so it has created an environment where mosquitoes are out there," Roberts says.

While he says 80 percent of the people with West Nile will never know they had it, it's still most important for people over 50 years old to take precautions.

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