“I could barely walk,” Oklahoma woman talks about West Nile Virus diagnosis

OKLAHOMA CITY - While many families are out enjoying the summer heat, health experts are warning Oklahomans to take precautions against mosquitoes.

Last week, the Oklahoma State Department of Health confirmed a mosquito tested positive for West Nile Virus in Oklahoma County.

Now, a local woman is encouraging others to take precautions after she was diagnosed with the virus.

“It just felt like someone had taken a brick and was just hitting the back of my head,” said Kristen Acosta. “I could barely walk.”

Just five years ago, Acosta was driving to Tahlequah for a floating trip with some friends before she started feeling sick.

“It was hard for me to vocalize, so my friend immediately took me to the hospital in Tahlequah and they immediately spinal tapped me. And, at that time, they quarantined me for a while thinking that I had meningitis,” Acosta said.

Doctors later confirmed it was West Nile Virus. She underwent treatment for months but said she is still facing challenges to this day.

“You don't just get West Nile and get better," Acosta said. “It took me like a year and a half to get like high functioning again, but there's still things now like I see a neurologist and an amazing medical team that has made life a lot easier now.”

Cynthia Baker with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, said 80 percent of people who contract West Nile only develop minor symptoms like fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and sometimes a skin rash.

“Mosquitoes can grow and breed in an area as small as a bottle cap,” Baker said. “It only requires a little bit of water for it to be a serious problem.”

Acosta believes prayer and the support from her family and friends is what got her through, but she hopes you'll learn a lesson from her story.

“It is a very serious thing and, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody,” she said.

There are services that can spray for mosquitoes around your home, but you can do your part by emptying any standing water that's around your home.