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Tulsa Man, Wheelchair-Bound From West Nile Virus, Tells Of Dangers

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West Nile Virus was attacked Nathan Johns' nervous system and put him in a hospital for 10 months. West Nile Virus was attacked Nathan Johns' nervous system and put him in a hospital for 10 months.
Johns is now confined to a wheelchair, and he said his family doesn't even walk to the car without spraying themselves with mosquito repellant. Johns is now confined to a wheelchair, and he said his family doesn't even walk to the car without spraying themselves with mosquito repellant.

Northeastern Oklahoma's summer showers have helped it out of the drought, but they brought another problem.

The Tulsa County Health Department says a batch of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

There are no confirmed cases of West Nile in the county so far this summer, but one Tulsan said he spent 10 months in the hospital and had to be put into a coma after contracting it in the past.

He hopes his story serves as a warning to Oklahomans.

08/03/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Health Department Sampling Detects West Nile Virus In Mosquitoes

"My best friend is a quadriplegic, and I've never heard him complain," Nathan Johns said.

Through family and friends, Johns remains positive about being wheelchair bound and having limited movement in his hands.

But it was a much bleaker picture less than a year ago, when he said doctors sent him home for something they thought was minor.

"I was shaking on my right side, and I wasn't even aware at this point," Johns said. "I went back to the hospital and I was there for 10 more months."

West Nile Virus was attacking Johns' nervous system.

He could barley breathe and had to be put into a coma to maintain his oxygen levels.

"Probably the one person that didn't give up was my wife, she never thought that I wasn't going to get out," he said.

Johns is now on the long road to recovery.

"They don't know if all the nerves will come back, but if they do come back, there's a good chance of walking again," Johns said.

According to the Oklahoma Health Department, Johns was one of 163 confirmed cases of West Nile in the state in 2012.

Fifteen of those cases were deadly.

July through October is considered peak months for West Nile. Plus, there has been more rain this year than last.

Click here to find out how to take precautions against West Nile

Johns said the storm drain that runs behind his house is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, and he believes that's how he contracted the West Nile Virus.

He said he and his family rarely go in their backyard and don't even walk to the car without spraying themselves with repellant.

Johns said a few cans of repellant may not be cheap - but it's less expensive that spending 10 months in the hospital.

"It's been a really grueling year, and I don't want others to experience this."

In a typical mosquito season, the Tulsa City-County Health Department sprays over 800 square miles for adult mosquitoes.

They plan to spray on Monday, weather permitting.

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