Mesa woman warns of West Nile virus after her husband’s death

Vickie Beard said her husband woke up paralyzed and later died from West Nile virus.
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 5:18 PM MST
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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — After a record-breaking 2021 for West Nile virus deaths and cases in Maricopa County, so far, there are 12 cases and one death in 2022. One woman is sharing her story after losing her husband seven months ago to the virus. “My husband was perfectly healthy. If it can happen to him, an active guy of 71, it can happen to you,” said Vickie Beard.

She said her husband woke up paralyzed and later died from West Nile virus. “I was 16 when we met. I don’t know my life without him. I’m trying to find a way and without God I wouldn’t be able to make it. Don’t let it happen to someone else,” said Beard. Her new mission to honor her late husband is to raise awareness about the virus that took the love of her life. “Be proactive. Wear your bug spray,” said Beard.

The Maricopa County Environmental Services Department echoed that message. They want to educate the public by putting on EPA repellant and removing standing water. The county also sets traps, lab-tests the mosquitos for the virus and sprays problem areas. “We have seen mosquitos all across Maricopa County and West Nile all over Maricopa County,” said Maricopa County Environmental Services spokesman Johnny Dilone. “It’s important to keep in mind, you can be bitten by a mosquito anywhere and what you can do, the best thing you can do is protect yourself.”

Beard is pushing for more of a fight against West Nile, like a new vaccine or different treatments from doctors. Overall, she wants you to take it seriously. “Don’t take for granted that it’s not going to happen to you because it can happen to anybody,” said Beard. For more resources on West Nile virus, head to www.fightthebitemaricopa.org and mosquito.org