Harold “Hal” Dalton’s life has changed because of a bite from a minuscule mosquito — but this mosquito carried the West Nile virus.
“This has been a life-changing experience,” said Dalton, as he leaned back in a chair at his home on Hardy Springs Road in McAlester.
“I got bit by a mosquito and I lost all movement in my legs. I couldn’t even sit up. My trunk muscles were like zero.”
Now, Dalton, who has been a very active 78 year-old, can sit up, but he’s working to try and regain the use of his paralyzed legs, rebuild the strength in his arms and improve his vision.
Although his flesh may be weak for now, a conversation with him shows his spirit is strong. He continues to have hope and he’s ready to face what may be a lengthy road ahead.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health does not identify victims of West Nile virus, but Dalton and his wife, Debbie Dalton, decided to speak out about his illness, because they want others to understand just how dangerous the virus can be.
They weren’t overly concerned about West Nile virus before. Only one case had been reported in the entire state last year.
Hal Dalton would turn out to be the first confirmed case of West Nile virus in Oklahoma for 2012.
Debbie Dalton recalled how she would work with her flowers in the evenings while her husband would work with their tomato plants, plants that he said grew so tall, he had to use a ladder to tie them at the top.
Debbie Dalton would notice increased mosquito activity in the evenings.
“I would slap at a mosquito and say ‘The mosquitos are biting. It’s time to go in,” she said.
Since West Nile virus can have an incubation period of up to a couple of weeks, Hal Dalton has no idea when he suffered the mosquito bite that led to his illness.
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