|Updated: 8/23/2012 5:43 pm
||Published: 8/23/2012 4:18 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - "It felt like we had hit the lottery but not for the good," said William Spencer III, and it's not hard to understand why. Less than 50 people in the whole country have died from West Nile virus this year, and only one in Arkansas -- 88-year-old William Spencer Sr.
"He was such a strong and healthy man," explained his grandson. "It's just hard to believe that something as small as a mosquito could take him out."
Spencer Sr. led quite the life. He served in World War II, graduated from the University of Arkansas, and worked for the Army Corps of Engineers in Little Rock for more than 30 years. Then came West Nile.
Spencer III says it all happened so fast. First his grandfather had flu-like symptoms, then dehydration, then two barely-responsive weeks in the hospital.
"It was definitely a shock to us. We just couldn't believe that of all things, that he would've been the one that got West Nile, but you know, it could happen to anybody I guess," said Spencer III. It's why he wants everyone to be educated about West Nile virus. Yes, only 1100 people or so have contracted the virus this year. Yes, children and the elderly are the most susceptible to it. But as the Spencer family knows all too well -- it can happen to anyone.
"It's just sad and it's going to take a long time I think for it to sink in that he's really gone, and he's not gonna come back in to this house," said Spencer III.
To help prevent contracting West Nile virus, remember the three D's: drain standing water, don't go outside at dusk or dawn when mosquitoes are most prevalent, and be sure to use insect repellent with DEET.