This past summer, Oklahoma saw more residents die from West Nile virus than ever before.
West Nile virus season ended a few months ago in Oklahoma, but many Oklahomans are still working to recover from the virus.
For the past few months, I’ve been writing about Bob Matthews, an Oklahoma City resident who contracted West Nile virus and was paralyzed because of it.
Recovering from West Nile virus is not easy. It can be a slow and painful process.
Bob told me in December:
“Therapy is painful, but it has to be because they’re stretching those muscles,” he said. “It’s nothing that’s intentional. It’s just something that comes with the territory.”
The Matthews family is one of many that has been affected by West Nile virus this past year.
Over the past several months, 15 people in Oklahoma have been reported dead because of West Nile virus. A total of 180 residents have contracted the virus since last summer.
These numbers are much higher than Oklahoma’s previous record — in 2007, the state saw 107 cases of West Nile virus and nine deaths.
Health officials think West Nile virus first entered North America in 1999. The virus is spread through contact with an infected mosquito and can cause serious symptoms, especially in adults older than 50.
The 15 Oklahoma residents who died ranged in age from 47 to 87 years old. As you can see from this map, they were from across the state.