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DALLAS Just turning on the light in the hospital room is enough to bring Katharyn DeVille to tears.

It's this killer, killer headache, she explained. It just makes me feel like somebody has an axe in my head and it hurts really bad. So this light is pretty excruciating.

That's what West Nile meningitis feels like to her.

Two weeks ago, DeVille said flu-like symptoms exploded. When I came in here Thursday for the spinal tap, I was like delirious and couldn't function, she said.

That's when she was admitted to Methodist Dallas Medical Center. It took three days to get a diagnosis of West Nile virus. Her brain scans confirmed West Nile meningitis and encephalitis.

Which means that the virus has infected not only the lining of the brain, but part of the brain tissue itself, explained Dr. Edward Dominguez, a Methodist infectious disease specialist and DeVille's doctor. Which would probably explain why she is more ill than some patients who only have fever or a rash and fever and get well quickly.

Dr. Dominguez said no one knows why one person is severely affected while another is not.

Katharyn DeVille is a healthy 42-year-old and a former Channel 8 producer who works in the interactive department of Belo. She never dreamed after 20 years of covering the news, she would become part of the news.

DeVille believes she was bitten in her DeSoto backyard. So when DeSoto Mayor Carl Sherman came to visit her in the hospital, DeVille encouraged him to consider every option, and to weigh the risks versus benefits of spraying for mosquitoes when it comes to protecting people.

Somebody who sprays up on my street, let me tell you, it is not going to get down the hill, down through my backyard, to the creek that's behind my house, which is where those mosquitoes are breeding, she said. If my daughter gets sick, I'm going to be mad... I'm going to be mad. If more of my friends get sick, more of my neighbors, because they sat on their hands, then I'll be very upset.

DeSoto is south of the Interstate 30 corridor. Mayors from the southern part of Dallas County were not invited to Monday's meeting to consider aerial West Nile spraying.

But DeSoto Mayor Sherman said the option was opened to his city on Tuesday.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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