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West Nile widow wants city to step up mosquito fight


OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma City woman who recently lost her husband to the West Nile virus is asking the city for help.

Eighty-two-year-old Perry Lee Bennett, Sr. died of the disease on Aug. 10.

“It’s a great loss to the family,” Lynn Fraser-Bennett said. “I never had an unhappy day with that man. He was my best friend.”

Perry’s widow plans to address city council Tuesday morning about actions she said need to be taken to prevent any more illness or deaths.

She’d like to see the city start spraying chemicals to kill mosquitos in targeted areas.

“I just feel they need to be a lot more aggressive than they are taking care of the situation,” Lynn said.

For their part, the city-county health department said they’re doing all they can to combat the spread of West Nile but that doesn’t include spraying.

“We are devoting many times the usual resources for mosquito control right now,” the City-County Health Cepartment’s Dale Claflin said.

Claflin said their program centers around locating and eliminating breeding locations.

He said spraying chemicals out of the back of pickup trucks doesn’t work well in Oklahoma City.

“The spraying only kills on contact one time,” Claflin said. “If we do it one night in Oklahoma with the wind blowing, it’s not going to have been effective.”

Lynn admits she doesn’t have all the answers but said her concern goes way beyond the loss of her husband.

“I miss him but what’s important to me is the city get out and do something,” Lynn said.

Health experts said another challenge, even if they targeted neighborhoods where the disease has shown up, the illnesses have been spread all across the county.

They said the best defense is for people to limit exposure to bites by using mosquito repellant.

LINK: West Nile by the numbers in Oklahoma