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Woman speaks out as husband battles West Nile amid record surge in positive mosquito samples

Posted at 9:58 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-15 07:41:44-04

PHOENIX — "It's unbelievable, I mean I've always called him… he's my rock, you know, and my rock is crumbled. So, it's really hard to realize that. I have to be the strong one now," says Vickie Beard of her husband Delma.

The Beards celebrated their 50th anniversary in a Chandler hospital, where 71-year-old Delma was diagnosed with West Nile virus. This was just weeks after he battled COVID-19.

Beard is sticking by their vows: in sickness and in health.

"We need to find some type of treatment plan because my husband is not the only one who's on a ventilator and paralyzed," says Beard.

Her husband has been hospitalized since early September, initially suffering from respiratory failure. He was in a coma for days. Doctors then transferred him to KPC Promise Hospital in Phoenix for high-intensity rehabilitation.

Beard is in a desperate search for answers.

"I feel like they're giving up, you know, and I just can't believe it. There's not somebody in this country that has had some success?" says Beard.

ABC15 reached out to Dr. Bobbi Pritt, a microbiologist with the Mayo Clinic. In a statement, she says: "There is currently no cure or specific antiviral drug to target the West Nile virus. All we can do is provide supportive care for the patient."

The Maricopa County Environmental Services Department has been monitoring the issue and provided us new numbers showing the total number of mosquito-related complaints, from neighbors reporting standing water, to be more than double than this time last year. There are also hundreds more green pool complaints. That is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

"This is the highest number that we have ever reported in terms of traps testing positive for West Nile," says Johnny Diloné, CPM with Maricopa County Environmental Services Department.

The department has identified thousands of areas throughout the years that are problem areas in terms of mosquito breeding.

In Delma's case, the family believes a catch basin full of standing water was the cause.

"I'm getting a little bit of head nods. I can ask him if he hurts and he can say, 'yes or no.' We're praying for a miracle, I'll be honest with you, I'm praying for that miracle," says Beard.

To make a complaint, you can call or go onto the Maricopa County website or call 602-506-0700.