Parents of West Nile victim: Take precautions, spray children with DEET

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on February 11, 2013 at 7:16 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 11 at 8:22 PM

One East Texas family is still coping with the devastating effects of the West Nile Virus three months after their 12-year-old son was diagnosed. 

Wade Gamblin has been in a hospital room at Children's Medical Center in Dallas since November. He's missing his 7th grade year in school. He's spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years as a patient. 

His parents, Henry and Alice Gamblin, don't know when he'll return home to Lindale, a town of about 5,000 residents located 14 miles northwest of Tyler. The Gamblins also are unsure of where Wade contracted West Nile.

"He passed out," his father recalls.  "I mean he just went down on the floor and I couldn't hardly get him up and when I did he was just totally lost control of his body."

 They said Wade had been a happy, active and healthy young man. He likes school, adores his younger sister and enjoys playing outside.

"I never thought it would ever happen," Alice Gamblin said. "I never even thought about it you know.  And we let him go out without being sprayed."

Now he's paralyzed from the neck down. He breathes with a ventilator. Although he appears to sense others around him, he says nothing.

There has been a hopeful sign, his father says; a recent MRI showed the virus retreating some in his brain and spine. Alice extends that hope, "I just feel like he's going to be better and that he's going to walk one day."  

But progress would be bringing Wade home and there's no date for that in sight. That would take buying a specialized bed, costing more than $5,000. His parents are working on raising the money by opening an account at the Wells Fargo Bank at 1445 Ross Ave. in Dallas.

As a new season of mosquito activity approaches, his father's advice for parents is spray their children with DEET before going outside.

 "Until it happens to one of yours you just can't imagine," he said.

Email bwatson@wfaa.com

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