West Nile recovery a long, slow and painful process for Oklahoma City man

Bob Matthews, 77, of Oklahoma City, has been working to recover from West Nile virus for about seven months. Matthews, a retired Heritage Hall principal, is partially paralyzed because of the virus.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: December 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm •  Published: December 25, 2012
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Every day, Bob Matthews fights through the pain that is recovery.

The physical therapy sessions hurt, but they're worth the hope that one day, he'll walk again.

“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.”

Matthews, 77, of Oklahoma City, contracted West Nile virus from a mosquito bite this summer and has spent the past seven months recovering.

Risk is higher

for older adults

This year, Oklahoma experienced its worst West Nile virus season since the virus entered the U.S. in 1999. A total of 177 cases and 13 deaths were reported this year, according to the state Health Department. The state's previous record was 107 cases and nine deaths in 2007.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne illness. Most people who contract the virus have a mild illness or do not get sick at all.

People older than 50 have the highest chance of contracting the virus and developing serious disease, including severe muscle weakness, mental confusion, tremors, muscle paralysis, or convulsions and coma, according to the state Health Department.

Partially paralyzed

About one in 150 people infected with West Nile virus develops severe illness, according to the CDC.

This is what happened to Matthews. The retired Heritage Hall principal has been partially paralyzed and undergoing daily physical therapy to recover.


by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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