DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – From the ground and by air, North Texas is trying to bite back against mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus.READ MORE: Security Expert Shares 'Run, Hide, Fight' Guidance In Wake Of Colleyville Synagogue Hostage Situation
So far this year, there have been nearly 800 cases of the illness and 22 deaths in a ten-county area in North Texas.
Dr. Don Read says the number of people affected, “is beyond our wildest expectations.”
The virus nearly killed the Dallas colorectal surgeon seven years ago. When he recovered, Dr. Read formed a support group. Now, because of all the cases this year, he’s re-starting the group next week.
“It’s very important to me because when I had it, my wife couldn’t find out about anything about it,” recalled Dr. Read. “Nobody seemed to know anything about it.”
As a result of his illness Dr. Read was paralyzed, and had to learn to walk and write again.READ MORE: Colleyville's Congregation Beth Israel Gathers For Special Service In Response To Saturday's Hostage Situation
So he knows just what to tell others. “Yes, I was paralyzed, I was in a wheelchair, I had to learn how to walk, you’re going to get better, you may not be completely well, but you are going to get better than you are now.”
Four years ago, Claire McCall became paralyzed from West Nile Virus and encephalitis. She now walks with a cane, and to this day, still has tremors, pain, and fatigue.
McCall said she plans to join Dr. Read’s support group, because he helped her back then.
“It really helps you to know that one, you’re not alone in how you feel, emotionally, physically, mentally,” McCall said. “As the caregiver, I think caregivers suffer from caregiver fatigue.”
According to Dr. Read, the mosquitoes will be with us through the end of October. So he continues to urge people to take precautions against the West Nile Virus.
After all the reports and confirmed deaths, Dr. Read believes the public has gotten the message.
“Before that, I think the general public thinks they’re 17 and bulletproof. It’s not going to happen to me. I indeed had a lot of mosquito bites over the years. They never bothered me ‘til this one, and this one bothered me a lot.”MORE NEWS: 2 Shot In Possible Road Rage Incident In Justin
The first meet of the West Nile Virus Support Group will take place on September 10, 2012. The meeting will be held at Medical City Hospital, in the City Hall Auditorium on the 2nd floor of E Tower and begins at 6 p.m.