West Nile Symptoms and the Places You Can Go

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - The number of West Nile Virus cases climbed into double digits.

We're now at 14.

You've been asking us how to tell if you've contracted the virus and where you can go to get checked out.

We've read your comments on our NewsWest 9 Facebook page and on Thursday we spent the day gathering answers.

We arrived at Midland Community Healthcare Services, a nonprofit that operates four clinics in the Tall City, giving low-cost services thanks to state and federal health care grants.

CEO Michael Austin says they can save you a trip to the emergency room for West Nile.

"We don't want to clog up the emergency room if you don't have to," he said. "If our clinics can help, certainly it's a better use of the resources here in the area."

Austin said the clinics can check your symptoms to see if they're similar to West Nile and their services are charged on a sliding fee depending on your income.

They said they can also treat you without insurance.

There are certain symptoms you should be showing before you come to the clinic.

"A fever that persists more than a couple of days," Austin said. "Aches, pains, a rash that seems to hang around for several days. Can't talk, can't hold a clear thought, that's a warning sign."

The clinics won't be able to diagnose West Nile in you but if they see a danger, "We would probably have to request that they be admitted to the hospital. The hospital would do a blood draw and actually have that sent to a lab," Austin said. "Three days later, you will get your results."

"The easier to obtain is the blood test," Infection Control Coordinator for Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, Rebecca Johnson, said. "The second one is done on central spinal fluid. Requires what we call a lumbar tap or spinal tap."

MCH officials said there's no magic cure for West Nile but they can offer supportive care for the symptoms.

What they want people to know is that 80% of people with West Nile experience no symptoms and don't even know they have it. Only one in 100 people develop severe symptoms.

"You don't need to be tested for West Nile unless you're really, really sick," Johnson said. "If you are well and you wonder if you've had it, don't be concerned."

Midland Community Healthcare Centers can be found at three locations in Midland:
1) 801 East Florida (432) 685-0450
2) 2500 Delano St. (432) 697-4747
3) 4214 Andrews Highway (432) 681-3100