OKC Man Paralyzed After Being Diagnosed With West Nile Virus

Wednesday, August 28th 2019, 6:24 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

A rare and extreme case of West Nile Virus has led to paralysis for an Oklahoma City man. 

Joe Fenton arrived at Valir Pace rehab hospital in May essentially a quadriplegic. It had been a full year since he was first bitten by a mosquito while at work.

“I killed the mosquito that was on my arm, but not in time,” Fenton recalled.   

West Nile Virus quickly started attacking his spinal cord.

“About three days to a week later I noticed I missed a step, dragged my foot behind me,” Fenton said.

Everything quickly went downhill from there.

Fenton couldn't walk by the time he went to the ER, and then spent the next nine months in the hospital. 

Fenton’s doctor at Valir said the West Nile not only attacked Fenton’s spine but his brain and nervous system. He had trouble talking, and still can't remember much of the past year.

“It’s a rare case in terms of its complexity, everything that went wrong,” said Dr. Mark Winchester.

Fenton said he would eventually like to get his life back, but right now he's focusing on taking it one step at a time.

“I am getting better day by day, stronger day by day,” he said.

Valir Pace is a non-profit rehab facility that offers not only therapy, but transportation and nutrition services. And it’s all free. For more information go to www.ValirPace.org.