HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A support group aimed at raising awareness for the West Nile Virus was held in Hattiesburg Friday.
Organizers of the meeting said they want to help those affected by the virus.
Crystal Walley attended the meeting. In 2011 Walley said she fell ill with what she thought was a virus.
"I was just like, I feel horrible. I had a rash all over me," Walley said. "Within a few days, I started just vomiting uncontrollably."
Doctors agreed a virus was Walley's problem, but once she was admitted to the hospital she started to lose her memory.
"When I woke up, I couldn't blink my eyes and move my fingers, and they basically wanted to put me in a nursing home," Walley said.
Walley was eventually diagnosed with West Nile Virus. She couldn't believe it.
"We had never even really heard of West Nile in 2011. I was one of those people that said, oh that'll never happen to me," Walley added. "It can happen to a 7-year-old or an 87 year-old. Take precautions because it's preventable."
That's the message Dr. Art Leis said he can't preach enough.
"We're in the peak season for West Nile Virus Infection," said Leis. "There are two reminders that are very important. Wear an EPA ingredient approved for mosquito repellent."
Leis said his second message was for doctors.
"When they see a case of meningitis or encephalitis during peak summer months, they should be checking a West Nile virus antibody test," said Leis.
Here are a few tips to help prevent becoming infected from the Centers for Disease Control
- style="background:white;">Always follow the product label instructions.
- style="background:white;">Reapply insect repellent as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.