West Nile Claims Life Of Luzerne County Man

08.28.12 | Bob Price

Newswatch 16 spoke with family members of the man who they say contracted the virus while walking his dog near his home in Wilkes-Barre.

Joseph Krawetz, a 25 year veteran of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department, and a Korean War veteran, died Sunday morning.  Family members say the 82-year-old 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 says 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 say they’re 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 State 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 State Department of Environmental Protection in Wilkes-Barre.

Family members say 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.