West Nile deaths in Lubbock, Crosby counties confirmed - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock


West Nile deaths in Lubbock, Crosby counties confirmed

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By Michael Slother - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - State health officials have now confirmed that West Nile Virus was to blame in the death of a man in Crosby County. 71-year-old Larry Yowell died back on September 9th, but it takes the State Department of Health Services some time before being able to determine if it's West Nile. 

Even though a person may test positive in a lab, the state launches their own investigation before confirming it's West Nile. Another Crosby County woman was getting out of the hospital today after two lab tests confirmed West Nile. Janie Wigley spent nearly a week at Covenant Hospital. She says it was scary when she found out the virus had already claimed a life in her county, but she's been told she'll make a full recovery. "It's relieving. They told me I probably have about a 4 week recovery, so I'm going to miss my students at Crosbyton Primary School, but I'll be back and healthy and ready to go in a few weeks."

Wigley was concerned about all the tests and the time it took to confirm the virus. State Department of Health Services sons specialist Karen McDonald explained why the test results can take so long. "If there is a delay it has to do with the fact that just because we get a positive lab test we can't automatically say that's a case. There has to be an investigation, paperwork has to be complete, and once it goes to Austin it's confirmed on the website," McDonald said.

Since St. Louis Encephalitis, a similar virus, has been reported in the area, the state must be able to eliminate that as the virus before confirming West Nile. Wigley's case was confirmed by a hospital lab, but is pending with the state. We talked with an emergency room doctor at Covenant who has seen cases and told us what to look out for. "Usually the main thing is avoiding areas where there is a lot of mosquito exposure," Dr. Juan Fitz continued. "Avoid stagnant water. If you have things outside your yard collecting water, make sure you get rid of them, because that's where they grow," he said.

The state health department says to remember the four D's:

1. Dusk/Dawn are the times of day you should try to stay indoors. This is when infected mosquitoes are most active.

2. Dress in long sleeves and pants when you're outside. For extra protection, you may want to spray thin clothing with repellent.

3. Deet (N,N-diethyl-m-toulamide) is an ingredient to look for in your inspect repellent. Follow label instructions, and always wear repellent when outdoors.

4. Drain standing water in your yard and neighborhood – old tires, flowerpots, and clogged rain gutters. These are mosquito breeding sites.

Wigley's husband is glad she's coming home safe, even if that means some new responsibilities for him. "My only concern is that I'm going to be her nurse, and I'm the world's worst nurse," Wigley said.

Crosbyton's secretary told me they've done everything they can to prevent mosquito growth. Even though it's been a wet season, they've sprayed more than 40 times, and continue to treat the playa lakes and ponds near the city to kill the eggs.

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