Bud Gillett, CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM

ARLINGTON (CBS 11 NEWS) – An Arlington man is the first in that city to die from the West Nile virus.  His is the second death recorded in Tarrant County this year.

County health officials are not identifying him, but family members tell us he is Charles Sheldon; they want the public to know how fast the virus can spread and how deady it can be.

“My brother-in-law was a very strapping, robust man,” Wanda Hill told CBS 11 News.  She adds her sister’s husband was especially vibrant for a man of 78.   “This was a very hard death. It was very, very hard. It was not pretty.”

She says Sheldon and his wife spent nearly a week complaining to doctors and emergency rooms about his sudden weakness and fever, but it was thought to be flu. “And I would suggest any time a person presents symptoms of flu–body soreness, aches and pains, fever–that they be checked for West Nile as well as flu,” Mrs. Hill cautioned.

Then a week ago Saturday, while at a Mansfield hospital emergency room, Wanda Hill tells me Sheldon went from bad to worse.   “It was about four hours from the emergency room to the transfer to a hospital room, but by the time he got to the hospital room he was unresponsive.”

The hospital cannot comment on Sheldon’s time as a patient there for privacy reasons. The Tarrant County Health Department won’t, either, other than to confirm a man in his 70s died from West Nile, the first this year in Arlington, the second death in Tarrant County.

Mrs. Hill tells me her sister, Sheldon’s wife, is devastated but trying to cope.

Charles Sheldon was still active, modifying motorcycles into three-wheelers.  He spent a lifetime driving or flying nearly anything with an engine, they tell me. No one knows where he might’ve gotten the deadly mosquito bite.

Hill says ground spraying is no subsitute for each and everyone of us taking responsibility for our safety.

“Please protect yourself,” she urges.  “And this is serious. This is real. It is not something you just hear about. It is real.

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