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Tick Bite Killed Husband

OKLAHOMA (CN) - A widow says her husband died of a tick bite because a federal Indian hospital misdiagnosed his treatable illness. Vivian Johnson claims doctors at the W.W. Hastings Indian Medical Center in Tahlequah failed to treat her husband for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which killed him.

The widow says her husband, Leonard Wayne Johnson, was misdiagnosed with lumbar strain and sinusitis, but was never tested for any tick-borne illness, though he showed symptoms of an infectious disease. It was weeks until the medical center flew him to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, where he was "immediately treated with appropriate antibiotics," and diagnosed with Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, according to the federal complaint. She says the delay resulted in her husband's death from treatable conditions.

Ehrlichiosis is a general term for several bacterial diseases that affect animals and humans. The Lone Star tick, a denizen of the Southern, Eastern, and South Central United States, is the primary vector.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most severe tick-borne rickettsial illness, with an incubation period of 5 to 10 days after a tick bite, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The widow is represented by Patrick Carr and A. Laurie Koller with Carr & Carr in Tulsa.

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