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Man fighting for his life after being diagnosed with West Nile Virus

By Elliott Polakoff

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    PHOENIX (KPHO) — As monsoon rains continue across Arizona, West Nile Virus cases are on the rise in our state. One Peoria man is fighting for his life in the Valley after contracting the virus in the last couple of weeks.

Gary Bushko turns 64 later this month, and according to his wife Jennifer Snider-Bushko, he’s always been in pretty good health. But towards the end of August, he’s gone from a healthy lifestyle to be able to move barely.

“I didn’t even know the virus was in Arizona, to be honest,” Snider-Bushko said.

But living behind a wash in Peoria during an unusually active monsoon season has made Jennifer and Gary’s neighborhood prime real estate for mosquitoes.

“Right now, there’s a lot of stagnant water out there,” Maricopa County Environmental Services Department Public Information Officer Johnny Dilon√© said. “And as long as that water remains stagnant for 4-5 days, that’s enough for mosquitos to breed.”

The Maricopa County Environmental Services Department sets traps and fogging highly-populated mosquito areas like the Bushko’s neighborhood throughout the year. And while the reality is that only a tiny number of mosquitoes even carry the West Nile Virus, that’s no consolation for Gary or Jennifer.

“He was on four blood pressure machines yesterday; he’s on fentanyl and propranolol right now,” Snider-Bushko said. “He’s on antibiotics to get the ammonia out of his lungs.”

Making matters worse, Gary’s going through this entire experience without health insurance. He’s just one year shy of qualifying for Medicare.

“It’s just me; there’s no support here except for the community,” Snider-Bushko said. “And I just need people to keep praying to keep him on his toes.”

In the meantime, Jennifer’s doing her best to be there for Gary. She’s trying to stay strong herself against a virus without any specific sort of treatment or vaccine.

“I’m afraid to go outside,” Snider-Bushko said. “The worst-case that they’ve seen in ten years. I want him home, and I just want him to pull through this latest complication.”

If you’d like to help with Gary’s treatment costs, his family has set up a GoFundMe.

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