Lufkin woman shares her battle with West Nile Virus

Donna Gardner, contracted West Nile Virus
Donna Gardner, contracted West Nile Virus

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Donna Gardner is one of ten confirmed cases of the West Nile Virus in Angelina County.

"It started with a rash on my face and my neck. And then, two days later, I had two days of really excruciating headaches. And then, I had two days of throwing up constantly," said Lufkin resident, Donna Gardner.

She's unsure how she contracted the virus a month ago. All she remembers is being taken to the hospital, dehydrated and in a wheelchair. Then, she received the news.

"He called me after I was dismissed from the hospital. My doctor called me that afternoon and said, congratulations. You've got West Nile," said Gardner.

Without the help of her younger sisters, 55-year-old Gardner says her health could have deteriorated further, potentially paralyzing her or placing her in a coma.

"They woke me up. You need to eat. You need to drink. Here's your medicine," said Gardner.

Garner returned to work for the first time in 3 weeks on Tuesday but is still having trouble with vision in her left eye. Still, she can't seem to understand.

"I wanted to say why me? But I was really glad it was me and not one of the kids," said Gardner.

So far, no deaths have been reported in the county, however, officials caution there are just as many unconfirmed cases as there are confirmed.

"It takes a process in order to get the state to confirm them. Documents have to be submitted. Lab tests have to be submitted. So, we're probably looking at doubling that amount, you know, within the next couple of weeks," said Angelina County and Cities Health District Administrator, Sharon Shaw.

With the rain from Tropical Storm Isaac, Shaw also cautions East Texans to make sure their homes aren't breeding grounds for the virus.

"After any kind of rain and mosquitoes breed in water, so yes we could be looking at increasing the mosquito population," said Shaw.

As for Gardner, she's happy to have some independence again. Gardner's doctors say it will take six months up to a year to fully recover from the virus. Health officials say it's important to remember the four "D's" to avoid West Nile. Dress appropriately, don't go outside at dusk and dawn, drain standing water, and use deet.

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