West Nile Encephalitis Claims Woman's Life

from Tulsa World .. 


CUTLINESWithin a week of getting a mosquito bite while in her mother's backyard, a vibrant Broken Arrow woman became an invalid on a ventilator and feeding tube. 

Jerry Kay "Tootie" Froman had unknowingly contracted West Nile virus from that mosquito, said her daughter, Kristin Makhani. 

"You don't know which mosquito might have it," she said. 

Froman got the bite in 2007 at her mother's home around 52nd Street and Peoria Avenue. She died Monday at the age of 64 after a 16-month-long battle with the disease caused by the virus. 

"If she died so that somebody else doesn't, it just makes it easier. A prayer will have been answered," Makhani said. 

At first, doctors thought Froman had a stroke. She was confused and couldn't think of her own name. She was taken to the hospital, where she underwent all kinds of tests. The diagnosis was West Nile encephalitis, which is an infection of the brain caused by the West Nile virus. 

Most of the next 16 months, Froman was on a ventilator. She spent time in a rehabilitation facility and a nursing home. A form of staph infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus found its way to her lungs. Her blood pressure frequently dropped perilously low. She contracted pneumonia and many other virulent infections. Froman even suffered a mild heart attack and was in a coma for two weeks. 

"It changed her personality. She could do nothing for herself at all," Makhani said. 

Froman had long ago told her family she didn't want to live if her life were reduced to a bed and ventilator. That made her suffering even more painful for her family, who could only watch as the woman they loved became someone they didn't even know. 

"They had to restrain her once because she was combative. That wasn't her," Makhani said. 

She said she wants her mother's suffering not to have been in vain. 

"She was kindhearted and never met a stranger," Makhani said. "What she has been through I would not wish on anybody." 

In a written letter to her mother's friends and family, Makhani wrote: "Contrary to information from the CDC, West Nile can affect anyone at any age. Please protect yourself and your loved ones. Wear insect repellent. Avoid being outdoors at dusk during mosquito season. Share Tootie's story; something good needs to come out of this tragedy. It only takes one bite." 

Kim Archer 581-8315 

West Nile virus facts: 

Eight people in Oklahoma died from West Nile in 2007; no deaths were reported from the virus in 2008. 

Nationwide, 124 people died from the virus in 2007 and only 34 in 2008. 

The virus is carried by mosquitoes and is considered a seasonal epidemic that flares up in the summer and continues through the fall. 

One in 150 infected with the virus will develop severe illness. People older than 50 are more likely to develop severe symptoms. About 80 percent who are infected will never show symptoms. The rest may have symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. 

The best way to avoid getting West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites. Wear insect repellent. Make sure you have good screens on windows and doors. Empty any standing water in flower pots, bird baths and other containers. 

Services set for 1 p.m. Saturday 

Services for Jerry Kay "Tootie" Froman, 64, of Broken Arrow are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Moore's Southlawn Chapel, 9350 E. 51st St. 

Originally published by KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer. 

(c) 2009 Tulsa World. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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