Peoria man seriously ill after contracting West Nile Virus

This year's active monsoon season has led to a mosquito boom across the Valley, and West Nile Virus cases are now up, compared to 2020.

Now, a Peoria man is in the hospital fighting for his life, after contracting the virus.

"He's my rock," said Jennifer Snider-Bushko. "I mean, he takes care of me, and now, to see him paralyzed like this, it's been a nightmare."

For Snider-Bushko, it has been an emotional rollercoaster. It all started over two weeks ago, when something was wrong with her husband, Gary Bushko.

"He had collapsed, and I helped him off the floor. He had lost control of his bowels. I said, 'hang on, honey,' and I called the ambulance," Snider-Bushko recounted.

Gary was rushed to the hospital, where doctors believed he suffered a stroke. It wasn’t until a week ago when Gary tested positive for West Nile Virus Meningitis. Doctors say it was the worst case they have seen in 10 years.

"The virus got into his cerebellum. It affected his speech and swallowing, but he is coherent," said Snider-Bushko. "It also got into his nervous system, his spine, so that’s what they saw there. He is pretty paralyzed, but he can wiggle his toes and hands."

Due to various complications, Gary had to be airlifted from Arrowhead Hospital to Abrazo in Phoenix on Sept. 4.

"Just got him off the ventilator two days ago, and that was like watching someone come out of life support," said Snider-Bushko.

So far in 2021, there has been 51 cases of the West Nile Virus reported, as well as two deaths. By this time in 2020, there were three cases and one death. Nowadays, Snider-Bushko simply wants people to know one thing.

"This can happen to anyone, and I wouldn't wish this on anybody. This has been an absolute nightmare."

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