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'Taken out by a mosquito': Retired Tempe police officer dies from West Nile Virus

Nathan Ryberg, 59, has died after contracting West Nile Virus. He was placed in a comma after the infection caused his brain to swell.

TEMPE, Ariz. — Friends of Nathan and Lori Ryberg call the couple truly remarkable.

They have been married for nearly 40 years and have fostered more than 30 children. They have six biological children and have adopted seven with special needs. 

“Two weeks ago, on Saturday, he went on a 35-mile bike ride,” Lori said.

But on September 11, she received an unexpected phone call while she was at work. 

“My babysitter called and said that my husband was sitting at the table unresponsive, so I rushed back home and he’s sitting at the table rigid,” Lori explained.

She rushed him to the emergency room thinking he had COVID-19. Tests later revealed he was suffering from the West Nile virus. 

“He was able to escape bullets for 32 years you know and was taken out by a mosquito,” Lori said.

Nathan was placed in a medical coma at John C Lincoln Hospital due to inflammation of his brain and died on Thursday, according to officials. 

There are currently 90 reported cases of West Nile in Maricopa County, a sharp rise from last year.  

“A lot more rain than normal throughout the whole county so it’s keeping things wet which is increasing mosquito activity,” said James Will, who is the Vector Control Supervisor with Maricopa County Environmental Services.  

Nathan served with the Tempe Police Department for 31 years before retiring as a detective. 

Lori will not be able to return to her job as a Special Education Teacher this year so their need is substantial.

Family and friends have launched a GoFundMe account to help the family. 

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