West Nile patient makes strides toward full recovery

West Nile patient makes strides toward full recovery

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

Before he was diagnosed with West Nile Virus, Clark Curry was a healthy man in his 60's who loved taking twilight walks with his wife.

"I've never been in a hospital one day in my life," he said.

After getting a mosquito bite last July, Curry woke up paralyzed.  He spent 28-days at Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City after facing complications from West Nile Virus.

"You don't think it will affect you," said Curry, "but all it takes is one mosquito bite."  

When Fox-25 crews first met Curry in August 2012, he was confined to a wheelchair and had limited use of his limbs.  After several months of grueling physical and occupational therapy, Curry was able to stand up.

Curry still remembers that moment in November when he mustered the strength to get out of his seat.

"I was watching football, and I was able to stand on my own from the chair for the first time, and of course I over did it," he recalled, laughing, "and then I was sore the next day."
 
When Fox-25 followed Curry through occupational therapy he still needed walker, but when crews pulled up to his Edmond home Thursday afternoon, he had his stride back.

"I've come a long way, I'm thankful," said Curry.

Curry is one of the luckier West Nile patients.  Doctors say only one third of patients who experience complications from the virus make a full recovery, another third never get better.

"The more you can do to avoid getting mosquito bites, the less your risk of getting West Nile," said Dr. John Harkess, an infectious disease physician at Mercy Hospital.  

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) confirms one West Nile death in Oklahoma County.  The victim was an elderly woman.  Health officials say in recent weeks, there have been four cases of West Nile reported in Oklahoma County.

"It doesn't seem to be as bad as what we had last year," said Dr. Harkess, "but people still have to be mindful about it."

Last year, the West Nile outbreak infected 176 people.  Doctors say the elderly, small children, and people with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to adverse effect from the virus.  

OSDH officials advise everyone to stay indoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most prevalent.  They say if you must go outside, use insect repellent with DEET, wear long sleeves and pants, and avoid standing water.

Curry says after 14-months fighting West Nile, he encourages everyone to exercise all precautions to avoid mosquitoes.  He's made tremendous progress since last July, but is still working toward a full recovery.

"The answered prayers in God's grace is just amazing," he said.

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