Villager who lost husband to West Nile Virus believes he suffered fatal bite at Fenney

A Villager who lost her husband to West Nile Virus believes he died after being bitten by a mosquito in The Villages.

Don Roberts, 74, died Jan. 16 at Shands Hospital in Gainesville. His death certificate states he died of West Nile Virus Encephalitis and that septic shock and pneumonia were also contributing factors.

Don and Sharlene Roberts

Roberts, who moved with his wife Sharlene in 2007 to the Village of Caroline, is believed to have suffered the deadly mosquito bite in December after golfing with friends in the Village of Fenney. The golfers gathered at the Fenney fire pit after completing their game.

Within days, Roberts started to fall ill, but the source of his ailments was a mystery.

“He was getting sicker every day,” said Sharlene Roberts, who this year would have marked her 52nd wedding anniversary with her husband.

Her husband’s fever spiked to 102 degrees and on Dec. 14 he was admitted at The Villages Regional Hospital. Doctors could not pinpoint what was wrong and he was transferred Dec. 19 to Shands Hospital. His hospitalization was an incredibly difficult journey, as he contracted MRSA and required a tracheotomy.

Don Roberts’ death certificate shows he had suffered for weeks from West Nile Virus.

Roberts, who moved here from New Palestine, Ind. and worked at RCA as a manufacturing manager, left behind two children. One is in Denver; the other is in Indiana. In the wake of her husband’s death, Sharlene Roberts said she has the support of her many friends in The Villages.

What she wants is to ensure that steps are taken to prevent another such death in The Villages.

She is certain that her husband suffered the fatal mosquito bite in The Villages. She said they seldom strayed outside Florida’s Friendliest Hometown and they had not done any recent traveling.

Residents of the Village of Fenney are reportedly concerned about their fellow Villager’s death, particularly because Fenney is surrounded by marshes, terrific habitat for breeding mosquitos. The newest Village in that area is the Village of Marsh Bend.

Mosquito spraying will be the topic of an upcoming meeting in the Village of Fenney. The meeting is set for noon to 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Fenney Recreation Center and will feature Sumter County Commissioner Doug Gilpin.

A Community Development District 1 supervisor is among those asking questions about the status of mosquito spraying in Sumter County.