Tulsa Man One Of Nine In County To Contract West Nile

Friday, August 10th 2012, 12:01 pm
By: News On 6

The Oklahoma Department of Health is warning residents to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, because of a dramatic increase in West Nile Virus cases.

There have been more than 30 cases in ten different counties this year and the most are in Tulsa County.

Tulsa County has nine confirmed cases of West Nile Virus, and most of the cases are the most severe form of the virus.

7/26/2012 Related Story: Warning Issued On Rise Of West Nile Virus In Oklahoma

Jim Schmidt is an active, athletic man in his 50s. Doctors believe being in good shape may have saved the Tulsa man's life.

"It's the first time in my life that I suffered. Okay, I'm talking real suffering," Schmidt said.

Schmidt has been in Florida for a month. Before he left for vacation, he was bit by a mosquito and started having muscle aches.

He went on the trip anyway, and within days he had stomach pains, a skin rash and eventually a fever of 106 degrees.

"You begin to feel kind of crazy sensations and burning - not nauseous - you just know something's going on, like someone threw gasoline in there somewhere," Schmidt said.

Schmidt had to spend 16 days in the ICU in Orlando, and for five of those nights he slept on ice to bring down his temperature.

 CDC Map of West Nile Cases In The US.

Even with drought conditions, West Nile Virus is on the rise.

The number of cases this year alone is more than the last four years combined.

Out of the 31 cases in Oklahoma, from 10 different counties, our area has had the most. Tulsa County has nine confirmed cases—the most in the entire state. Pittsburg County has three and Muskogee County is reporting two cases.

The Oklahoma Department of Health said the majority of cases have been Neuroinvasive West Nile Virus. That's the most severe form of the infection and causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

Oklahoma Department of Health: West Nile Virus

Symptoms of serious neurologic West Nile Virus can progress quickly and may include high fever, headache, stiff neck, mental confusion or disorientation, numbness, convulsions, and coma.

Persons should seek medical attention if any of these symptoms develop, especially within two weeks after mosquito bites.

The ODH are urged to become "mosquito aware" and take the following precautions to protect themselves against mosquito bites:

  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors. (Insect repellent with permethrin should be used on clothing only.)
  • Place mosquito repellent in a handy and visible location in the home for easy access.
  • Repair or install window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
  • Prevent items such as buckets, cans, flower pots, and tires from holding standing water so mosquitoes don't have a place to breed.
  • Empty, clean and refill your bird baths and pet's outdoor water bowl daily.
  • Clean leaves and debris from rain gutters regularly to ensure they are not clogged.

Jim said support and prayers helped him get through.

"It's the most overwhelming feeling in the world, like when you fall in love or something," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said he's seeking help for respiratory and neuropathic problems he's still experiencing.