West Nile: Father hospitalized for three months

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Updated: 11/02/2012 9:06 am Published: 11/01/2012 9:22 pm

The West Nile virus outbreak of 2012 is one of the worst in state history this year.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports 176 cases and 12 deaths were caused by the West Nile Virus.

However, The Tulsa County Health Department reports there have been no signs of West Nile in mosquito trappings in four to five weeks.

This week, they picked up all of the traps for the season. But don't stop protecting your family just yet, warns one family.

“Anyone can get it, he got it in the backyard,” said Deidre Johns.

Her brother, Nathan Johns, has been in the hospital for three months fighting the West Nile Virus.

"No one thinks that with a stomachache you have West Nile,” said DeLana Thomas.

Nathan’s mother said her son was hospitalized in the middle of July. He was diagnosed with the West Nile Virus, suffered from viral meningitis, encephalitis.  He is partially paralyzed and is on a ventilator.

"His body has been ravaged with it,” said Johns.

Her brother turned 36 in the hospital.  

"Anyone can get the West Nile virus, not just the elderly,” said Johns.

Thursday night the family partnered with the Fraternal Modern Woodmen of America for a benefit for the Johns’ family.

For families like the Johns,’ Modern Woodmen of America offers ways to get help when they need it, to find resources for your family and to keep you physically, emotionally and financially healthy. The group is matching up to $2,500 for tonight’s benefit.

The Johns family said Nathan was working on building his own business, but that has been put on hold. He is a husband and father to a boy who will turn two in January.

"He is missing so much,” said Thomas. "He is not allowed to play outside anymore. We brought his toys inside."

The doctors believe Nathan had been bitten by several mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus and the Health Department had sprayed the neighborhood before he was infected.

"He got it in the backyard,” said Johns.

He lives in Broken Arrow where three others were infected with the West Nile virus. His family said two of those people died.

"It's scary, it really is,” said Johns.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports only one in 150 West Nile patients infected become neuro-invasive; meaning the virus attacks the body's nervous system. 

"The only reason he is still alive is how young he is,” said Johns. “I'm not scared, I'm still scared, I'm extremely scared."

The Johns family said this has changed their lives forever. They know Nathan will survive but it will take a full year to recover.

"I think he'll make it, I'm hoping,” said Johns.

The Johns family is stressing prevention.

“The weather is cooling off, you still see mosquitoes and you still wonder,” said Johns. “Absolutely make sure you have no standing water, because they grow and they grow fast."

The Tulsa County Health Department hopes now people will hear the Johns’ story and keep it in mind for next year.

“We can make our voice known and have our voice heard and alert people that you need to keep your prevention methods and we don’t want to have a year like last year,” said Epidemiologist Nicole Schlaefli.

The health department recommends mosquito repellent with DEET, long sleeves when outside at dawn and dusk and don’t leave any standing water around your home.

The family said you can drop off donations at Brewburger at 71st & Sheridan in Tulsa.

They raised more than $7,000 during Thursday night's benefit at Walnut Grove Church in Broken Arrow.

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