East Texas health officials gear up for peak West Nile season

Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Summer time is here, and so are the mosquitoes.

"Mosquitoes tend to come out in temperatures over 70 degrees," said Sharon Shaw, the administrator of the Angelina County Health District.

The period from late May to early November is the greatest risk in Texas for West Nile Virus, and according to Sha,w now is the time to be proactive.

"Wear bug spray, deet, drain water, dress appropriately," said Shaw.

West Nile is the worst pain you will ever feel, according to Lufkin resident Garland Hawk.

"It's basically the flu times 100," Hawk said.

Six years ago, he was diagnosed with West Nile Virus after being bitten at a baseball game.
Hawk said he suffered flu-like symptoms, and when he went to the doctor, he was told he had a virus.

"They gave me a shot and some medication. I took that for three days I went back I was not any better," Hawk said.

He ended up in the hospital for nine days, but it took him two years to fully recovery.

"It will take you several years to get it out of your blood stream," Hawk said.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there were 183 cases of neuroinvasive West Nile Virus in the state, and one of those cases was in Angelina County.

However, Shaw says there is no ways to tell what the outlook is for this year, and families have to be diligent in protecting themselves.

"People maybe spray their children for mosquitoes, but mom or grandma, when they go out in the garden, aren't protecting themselves," said Shaw.

Hawk said he feels lucky to have survived, and when he goes outside, he makes sure his whole family is protected.

"There's been a number of people that passed away because of it; its not a virus that you want to deal with," Hawk said.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, people older than 50 are most at risk for the virus.

Anyone can reduce their risk by using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves, draining standing water, and keeping screens on windows and doors in good condition to help keep mosquitoes out.

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