Evergreen Park Mayor Tells of West Nile Virus Survival

"It lets people know this is real, that it happened to somebody. It could happen to you."

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Two years ago, Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton nearly died from West Nile Virus. He still has not fully recovered, but he's telling his story in the hopes of keeping other people from suffering the way he did. Nesita Kwan reports.

    Two years ago, Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton got flu-like systems that wouldn't go away. He continued to get weaker and his fever kept going up.

    It turned out to be a severe case of West Nile virus that landed him in intensive care for two weeks.

    Mosquito Season Expected to Sting

    [CHI] Mosquito Season Expected to Sting
    WATCH OUT THIS SUMMER. OUR UNUSUALLY LARGE AMOUNT OF A higher than average rainy season is expected to lead to a bumper crop of mosquitos, and it could increase the number of cases of West Nile Virus. NBC 5's Nesita Kwan reports.

    "Severe weakness, a lot of confusion and fever," Sexton said. "The swelling of the brain was mid-week, and it didn't look good at that point, but the hospital did a wonderful job and got it under control." 

    Sexton survived and now he and his family tell the story in two videos produced by the Cook County Health Department.

    West Nile Virus Survivor Story

    [CHI] West Nile Virus Survivor Story
    Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton shares his west nile survivor story. natalie martinez reports

    As Labor Day approaches, Sexton's story serves as a reminder to be on the lookout for symptoms.

    In the Chicago area, most infections happen around this time of year. There's a two-week incubation period, and most people don't know when or where they were bitten.

    "It lets people know this is real," he said, "that it happened to somebody. It could happen to you."

    Sexton said it was a slow road to recovery, but he's glad to be back, to his family and his constituents.

    "I can't believe that you could lose all those functions that quickly," he said, "because I needed help out of the bed, to the bathroom, into the wheelchair." 

    Dr. Terry Mason at the Cook County Department of Public Health warns that little tubs of water, like bird baths and plastic swimming pools, are a feeding ground for mosquitoes.

    Mason encourages residents to repair screen doors to make certain bugs can't get through holes.

    And the big thing: "Make certain you put on a repellant that contains DEET."

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