A Chicago firefighter died Thursday evening from an infection of the West Nile Virus, a department official said.
Lt. Thomas Flahive, with the department since November 1989, was bitten by a mosquito two weeks ago and shortly thereafter began feeling flu-like symptoms, according to department spokesman Larry Langford.
Flahive was examined and admitted to an area hospital where his condition worsened.
"You think of it as a disease that affect weak people. Tom was not that. He was a big strong man," said Asst. Deputy Commissioner Mark Nielsen. "It's disturbing that somebody can go so quickly. You see them at the fire house one day and the next day he's dead.
Nielsen said the 58-year-old, assigned to Engine 108's firehouse at Milwaukee and Laramie on the city's far northwest side, was bitten during a family vacation in Wisconsin.
He is survived by his wife and three adult children.
The family is donating portions of his body in hopes that more can be learned about West Nile and its affect on the human body.
Illinois is among eight states where roughly 70 percent of all West Nile cases have been reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Village of Lombard President William Mueller last month died from the disease. Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton also contracted the virus.
August and September are typically the months when Illinois sees a rise in cases, but a larger spike is expected this year because of the area's hot, dry summer.
|CDC.gov: About West Nile|