“Torn out by a mosquito”: Retired police officer in Tempe is fighting the West Nile virus


Nathan Ryberg, 59, is in a medical coma after the West Nile virus swelled his brain.

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

They have been married for almost 40 years and have looked after over 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,” said Lori.

But on September 11th, while she was working, she received an unexpected phone call.

“My babysitter called and said that my husband was sitting at the table unresponsive, so I hurried home and he was sitting rigidly at the table,” explained Lori.

She took him to the emergency room because she thought he had COVID-19. Tests later revealed that he was suffering from the West Nile virus.

“He was able to escape bullets for 32 years and was killed by a mosquito,” Lori said.

Nathan is in a medical coma at John C Lincoln Hospital due to an encephalitis.

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

“It rains a lot more than normal across the county so things stay wet, which increases mosquito activity,” said James Will, the Vector Control Supervisor at Maricopa County Environmental Services.

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

Due to the severity of Nathan’s illness, Lori will not be able to return to her job as a special education teacher this year, so her need is substantial

Family and friends have set up a GoFundMe account to help out with family.

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