“Survivor” Contestant Lisa Whelchel Has West Nile
(NEW YORK) — Lisa Whelchel, the ’80s actress battling it out on Survivor: Philippines, says she’s recovering from the West Nile virus.
“Dr. just called with blood test results,” she tweeted Tuesday. “I have West Nile. Ugh. I’m fine, just tired.”
Whelchel, 49, played Blair Warner on The Facts of Life, a 1980s sitcom about an all-girls boarding school in New York. After a 24-year hiatus, she returned to TV for the 25th season of Survivor, which finished filming in April and is currently airing.
It’s unclear when and where Whelchel contracted the mosquito-borne virus, which has infected 5,128 Americans so far this year and killed 229, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than one-third of the cases have been in Texas, where Whelchel lives, according to her Twitter account.
In August, Dallas launched an aerial attack on the virus, spraying the city from airplanes with mosquito-killing pesticides and raising concerns among residents.
“It’s a difficult issue because there’s a lot of sentiment people don’t want this, and there’s a fear of the unknown, but in some ways, it’s very simple,” Mayor Mike Rawlings told ABC News at the time. “When you are dealing with someone’s life, that should come first and foremost.”
Most people who become infected with the West Nile virus show no symptoms at all. But 20 percent of people infected develop West Nile fever, with symptoms including high temperature, headache, tiredness, body aches, and sometimes a rash and swollen lymph glands that can linger for several weeks, according to the CDC.
One in 150 people infected with the virus develops a severe form of the disease that invades the nervous system, causing convulsions, paralysis and coma. People older than 50, and those with compromised immune systems are more at risk, according to the CDC.
Whelchel, who is still in the running on Survivor: Philippines, said she expects to make a full recovery and thanked her Twitter followers for their good wishes.
“I’ve been very touched by all the sweet tweets,” she wrote on her Twitter account. “So grateful for you. Thanks!”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio