Three East Texas Women Die From Mysterious Illness - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/9/02 - Longview

Three East Texas Women Die From Mysterious Illness

Three East Texas women die after suffering from similar flu like symptoms.

Now their families want answers.

43-year old Debra Rust of Gilmer died November 21 just hours after coming down with a high fever, vomiting, and chills.

Within nine days two other Longview women had died after suffering from similar symptoms.

For Ronald Rust and his family this holiday season will be one mixed with mourning.

His wife of 20-years died November 21-st.

The cause of death still unknown.

"She woke up that morning about two o'clock in the morning. Freezing, shaking all over just hurting," recalls Ronald Rust about the morning of November 21st.

Debbie's temperature was about 102.

At first she began to feel better but by that afternoon she took a turn for the worse.

"Her hands and her feet were numb. She couldn't feel them. They were pale looking," says Ronald.

Debbie had stopped breathing.

Paramedics rushed her to Good Shepherd hospital but it was too late.

Four days later 42-year old Cheryl Bothwell of Longview died.

Five days after that on November 30th 17-year old Ashley Taylor was also pronounced dead.

Ashley too had suffered from vomiting, diarrhea, high fever and eventually began having trouble breathing.

For all three women no cause of death is listed on their death certificates.

The cases have been sent to the Texas Department of Health in Tyler.

Director Paul McGaha says, "there is no reason to believe there is anything going on to be a threat to the general population. They are continuing to investigate."

In the meantime doctors say if you're sick don't be afraid to seek medical attention.

"It's really how you feel and how you responded to illness in the past if you're sicker than normal or if something's really concerning you." says Dr. James Nichols.

Autopsies have been ordered on all three women.

For Ronald Rust he says he can't rest until his questions are answered, "I don't know it's just like no closure."

Autopsy results on all three women are expected to be in by the middle of January.

Amy Tatum, reporting

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