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West Nile survivor urges people to take the virus seriously

Katherine Novak was hospitalized with West Nile four years ago, but says she still suffers lingering effects.
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 7:40 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) -Most people who get West Nile won’t even know they have it. But there’s woman in DeQuincy who is the exception.

West Nile is a virus transmitted by mosquitos which can cause inflammation of the brain. While most people don’t even know they have it, it’s estimated one in 150 people may get a serious case of the West Nile, which is sometimes deadly.

Katherine Novak was hospitalized four years ago and says she nearly died. Not long after, she suffered a stroke. Novak urges everyone to heed the warnings.

“I just want people to be respectful and be careful because this west Nile is nothing to play with. It’s horrible and it will mess you up for life,” said Novak, who stays mostly in a recliner all day, due to health problems.

Calcasieu Mosquito Control officials say their pools in four areas of the parish test positive for West Nile. Pools refers to traps containing mosquitos in various areas.

Scott Harrington is the Mosquito Control operations manager.

“The big thing is to let the public know that West Nile is in our area. Even though we have mosquito pools from the city area it’s probably across the parish. It’s associated with wild birds. So, the birds and mosquitos are transmitting it back and forth,” said Harrington.

“For most people it would be like you got a cold. For some people there’s no symptoms at all. But it’s really the people who have other issues such as cancer, heart disease, or other issues with their body or health,” said Harrington.

He says people should wear repellant, empty containers of stagnant water, and avoid the pests especially right at dusk.

“You know most of your mosquitos come out at dark or early morning. That would be the time to be extra cautious,” said Harrington. Novak hopes her health will improve, but at age 66, she’s not overly optimistic. She urges to take west Nile seriously.

“Cover yourself in white clothes, and bug spray all over you. But that’s still not a guarantee,” said Novak.

Mosquito control officials urge people to wear repellant when they go outside. Meanwhile they plan to increase ground and aerial spraying to fight the problem.

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