Parker County

North Texas woman says her husband died after contracting West Nile virus

So far, there's been no official confirmation of a human case of West Nile virus in Parker County

NBC Universal, Inc.

After record rainfall this spring, North Texas is under a growing threat of West Nile virus.

Mosquitoes spread the virus, and a widow in Parker County is urging caution while outdoors after she said her husband died after contracting the disease.

Dranda Hopps said her nightmare began June 9, with weekend yardwork outside her Springtown home.

“I don't think reality's hit yet,” said Hopps, crying.

After torrential rain last month, she said she and Gary Hopps, her husband of 30 years, decided to trim a ditch along their property.

“We thought we need to get out there and weed-eat before mosquitos start coming in,” recalled Dranda Hopps.

She said her husband took precautions by wearing a long-sleeved shirt, pants, boots, gloves, and a hat. Three days later, she said he developed flu-like symptoms like weakness and vomiting. She said her primary care physician told them by phone to go to the emergency room where Gary Hopps was admitted.

“I noticed a few days later while he was in the hospital that he did have a mosquito bite between his index and thumb,” said Dranda Hopps, pointing to her hand.

She said her husband’s condition worsened.

With no clear answers about what was wrong, she said doctors performed a lumbar puncture or spinal tap the week after he was admitted.

“Then when they came back and told me on the 26th that it was West Nile I told her, 'No, no, no, no. Don't tell me that because tomorrow you're going to come back and tell me that's not what it was,” recalled Hopps.

“She says, ‘No, we got the test back last night, and it confirmed West Nile.'”

Dranda Hopps said she was told little could be done and had to decide whether to place her husband on life support, something she said he was always against.

“It was hard for me to keep that promise to him, but I did,” said Hopps tearfully.

Gary Hopps, 67, died at home on Saturday.

“I’m still waiting for him to walk through that door from work or come into bed saying, ‘Goodnight, honey bunny,’” said Hopps.

The State of Texas requires medical providers to report human West Nile cases to the Department of State Health Services. A spokesperson for the DSHS told NBC 5 that investigating those reports can take time and that as of Wednesday night, there have been no confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Parker County.

The City of Springtown issued a statement Wednesday saying: “The city of Springtown is aware of claims of human cases of West Nile virus within the city limits of Springtown. As of this afternoon, July 3, the city has received no official notification or confirmation of any human cases of West Nile virus in our jurisdiction. The city will remain in contact with state health officials. In the event that the city is notified of a confirmed case, we will make the appropriate public notifications to the community.”

Dranda Hopps said she's requested her husband's medical records from the hospital. She suspected he was bitten by a mosquito when he removed his gloves during a break from yard work.

“He was great. Everybody that he met loved him,” she said.

She’s urging the public to be aware of the virus and to take all precautions possible to prevent the pain that she’s enduring.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said no vaccines or medicines prevent West Nile virus. It said the best ways to avoid it are to use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, treat clothing and gear, and control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors.

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