DALLAS —- "I still have some memory issues,” Katharyn Deville admits, two years after she was hospitalized in Dallas with West Nile meningitis and encephalitis.
Deville fought off the virus, but had a lingering hand tremor, fatigue, and some mild memory problems for months afterwards.
There is a vaccine to prevent West Nile virus in horses, but one does not exist for people. Treatment is limited to supportive care and time.
In February, Deville was sent a letter from Vanderbilt School of Medicine asking her to participate in research to learn how the body's natural defenses have fought off the virus infection. Researchers at Vanderbilt hope to use what they learn to design vaccines and treatments. The research study is small, just 20 people, but it’s hoped the results will be significant.
Deville and other study participants were asked to donate several vials of blood.
"Anything we can do to keep people healthy,” says Deville, “Or help people have an easier time of recovery, I'm all for it."
Now fully recovered from west nile and living in Louisiana, Deville considers herself one of the lucky ones.
"It's terrible whether you have a mild case or a severe case,” she says, “Or, God forbid, people that we know that didn't make it that passed away from it."
Vanderbilt researchers are still looking for patients to participate in the study. Patients must have previously had a confirmed west nile virus infection they fought off. Interested patients should contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
TRAVIS COUNTY -- An experienced group of friends from North Texas canoeing down the Colorado River were stranded Friday morning when fast-moving water carried their canoes away.
According to a spokesman from the Travis County Emergency Services District, it happened between Austin's Colony and Webberville in east Travis County in the Colorado River. EMS officials say the 13 men were "stranded on an island" in the 1200 block of South Dunlap Road.
Officials say the men were camping and were trapped by rapidly rising waters overnight. They told emergency personnel that the boats they had used to reach the island area had apparently washed away.
The 13 men from Dallas make an annual kayakying trip. They say they asked their outfitter on this year's excursion if they had any reason to be concerned about the storms in the forecast.
He apparently told them no, that it would have to rain "multiple inches" to become dangerous. That's exactly what it did.
They believe the river rose about four feet in two hours as they slept. Their tents were full of water, and their canoes and kayaks were gone, so they had no way to evacuate.
They called 911 and a StarFlight helicopter arrived within minutes. The helicopter took the men up in groups of three, going back and forth until all were rescued and brought to dry land.
"I thought my buddies were actually messing with me whenever they woke me up," Eric Anderson said. "Yeah, I was a little panicked whenever I realized what the situation was, and where the river was. It had risen, I would say, three or four feet."
Once they were on dry land in a nearby park downstream from the island, the men stood helplessly and watched a lot of their stuff float by with no way to reach it.
Anderson estimates he lost about $3,000 worth of coolers and camping equipment.
The group's original plan was to go to Arkansas this weekend, but they saw the forecast and thought they'd have more opportunity to get out on the water safely if they headed south.
Turns out plan B didn't quite pan out the way they wanted it to, but they are happy to be safe and sound and headed back home to Dallas Friday afternoon.