WILKES-BARRE -- A man from Luzerne County contracted the West Nile Virus and died, according to state health officials.
The man contracted the virus while walking his dog near his home in Wilkes-Barre, according to family members.
Joseph Krawetz, 82, a 25-year veteran of the Wilkes-Barre police department, and a Korean War veteran, died Sunday morning. Family members said the man had been fighting West Nile Virus for three weeks.
Dorothy, his wife of 51 years, sat on her porch in North Wilkes-Barre with the family dog Buddy while neighbors consoled her. Dorothy said she lost her best friend, as in just hours, Joe went from a healthy man to someone who didn't even recognize the family.
Neighbors said they are in shock that the virus took one of their own.
"I couldn`t believe it, like, I didn`t expect anyone to have it around here. It`s always one of those things you hear of but never expect it to happen to anyone you know, so, no, wasn`t good," said neighbor Krystle Murphy.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed the death of a man in Luzerne County from West Nile Virus. State environmental officials say dozens of mosquitoes were trapped within the city of Wilkes-Barre and tested positive for the virus.
"We`re experiencing rates of West Nile mosquitoes testing positive three to four times higher than years past and we`re attributing that to a warmer than normal winter, a warm spring, and hardly any rain this summer," said Colleen Connelly, spokesperson for the regional office of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in Wilkes-Barre.
Family members said Joe likely got bit by the mosquito while he was out walking his dog, something they say he did five, even six times a day.
"Empty standing water on your pool, bird baths, wheelbarrows, that`s where mosquitoes incubate and multiply and thrive and survive and they can go off and infect other mosquitoes," added Connolly.
Officials say you should also wear bug spray and long-sleeved clothes while outside to protect yourself from mosquitoes that could possibly carry the West Nile Virus.