West Nile fear sweeping down the plains


OKLAHOMA CITY — With nightly news reports of a West Nile Virus epidemic, it’s no wonder folks like Charlotte Petties are worried.

A small creek runs behind her house and this 60-year-old woman fears a recent mosquito bite on her back might lead to West Nile.

Petties said, “Scared and concerned. Hopefully it’s not. But I want a doctor to check me out. Better safe than sorry.”

Charlotte is not alone. 

Dispatchers are taking more West Nile calls and Oklahoma ERs are seeing more patients, afraid they’ve been exposed.

EMSA Field Supervisor Tony McCarty hasn’t seen anything like this in years.

“People are getting spooked, especially with Dallas and the efforts to eradicate mosquitoes. We get the calls, ‘My baby was bitten.’ Can they come take her to the hospital? There is no reason to rush to the hospital.”

Experts said you should seek medical attention if you develop serious flu-like symptoms, typically three to 14 days after a mosquito bite. 

McCarty said, “Out of 100 cases, only 20 show any symptoms at all.”

While the odds of serious illness or death are small, Oklahomans need to be mosquito aware. 

McCarty told us, “Proactive, not paranoid.”