A concerned local business owner hopes to inform the public about a scary situation. Leslie Brazelton, owner of Les' Barber Shop, shared with the Sweetwater Reporter in a phone interview that she recently tested positive as having the West Nile virus.
Though she is not certain, Brazelton thinks she may have been bitten by a virus-carrying mosquito while outside mowing the lawn at her house located between Sweetwater and Trent.
Brazelton said that a simple blood test can be done to determine if a person has West Nile, which was performed by her physician in Sweetwater. Results, in her case, came back in about a week's time.
However, according to the Sweetwater-Nolan County Health Department (SNCHD), this case does not count as a confirmed case in the county as the resident is from the Trent area; thus it will be specified as a confirmed Taylor County case.
Brazelton said that the symptoms are different for each person, but the gestational period lasts anywhere from 3 to 15 days. Her symptoms included severe headaches--which she said are worse than migraines, extreme weakness and flu-like symptoms.
Some people will also experience vomiting, but Brazelton has not shown that symptom. And unfortunately, she said that symptoms cannot be treated unless the stronger form of West Nile, spinal meningitis, is contracted.
On top of dealing with the symptoms of West Nile, Brazelton said that she also has multiple sclerosis (MS). She believes that the combination of both ailments are taking an intense toll on her immune system.
Although she hopes the cold weather may slow down the spread of West Nile, Brazelton wants to send a double message. First, people need to be careful and aware, as they may have a mosquito bite and not even know they have the virus. She also believes that the city should be spraying to stave off the virus locally.
Russell Jones, the Public Works director for the City of Sweetwater, shared that while there is no set schedule for spraying, they work from the south side of town--as the winds predominately come from that area--to the north side.
In a total of four days, the whole town will be sprayed; each night, about two or three sections of town are completed. The spraying trucks, which emit a chemical called "adulticide", will run based on complaints received.
Jones said that the city works collaboratively with the Sweetwater-Nolan County Health Department in this process.
Another chemical used, larvacide, treats areas of water and has a thirty-day life expectancy. Thus, it is used once a month as necessary.
In the summer of 2012, the SNCHD cited three confirmed West Nile cases in the area--one each in Mitchell, Fisher and Nolan counties. The Nolan County case was confirmed by a local doctor's report this past June.
"The West Nile virus is here, it has been here, and it will stay here," said officials with the SNCHD.
The SNCHD strives to inform and educate citizens on preventative measures by following the four D's: staying indoors at dusk and dawn, dressing appropriately while outdoors (long sleeves and pants that are loose and light-colored), using insect repellent with DEET, and draining standing water to prevent breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
In addition, the local health department added that all properties--residential and commercial--should remain clean-cut and mowed to keep the pests from finding places to thrive. Air conditioning and screens on windows and doors will also keep mosquitoes from entering homes.
The SNCHD hopes that a community-wide effort from a variety of entities will help residents learn about the virus and steps to take for prevention. Information on the status of the West Nile virus during 2012 can be found on the SNCHD website, www.nolancountyhealth.com, by scrolling down toward the bottom of the home page.