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West Nile Virus Victim's Daughter Raises Awareness

Denton County to evaluate response to this year's outbreak

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Christine Gossett lost her father to West Nile virus five years ago. She says awareness of the virus is crucial. (Published Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012)

    A woman who lost her father to West Nile virus five years ago says awareness of the disease is crucial.

    Christine Gossett's father, George Studdard, was a softball umpire and referee.

    "He really was suddenly hit by this, and none of us knew what hit him," she said.

    Gossett said her family was left with many questions about the virus that seemed foreign. Today, the virus continues to claim lives, but more people are mindful of its effects, she said.

    "It brings me a little bit of comfort to know that there are people out there working behind the scenes, researching it, learning about it and addressing the issue," she said.

    Denton County Health Department spokeswoman Sarah McKinney said stories such as Gossett's shine light on the issue.

    There is more public awareness about the virus, but there is room for progress, Denton city and county officials say.

    County leaders are already thinking about next year as they continue to battle this year's West Nile virus outbreak. A team of county health officials will review their response to the crisis and make some changes for next year.

    "After the dust settles, we will sit down as a team and do what we call an after-action review," McKinney said.

    She said the team will evaluate the county's response to the crisis, from education and funding to staffing.

    "We will be looking at what we can do better next year to predict this. How are we going to be better prepared to handle the influx of cases?" McKinney said.


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