Thomas Flahive, Chicago Firefighter, Dies Of West Nile Virus

A veteran Chicago Fire Department lieutenant bitten by a mosquito died Thursday night from the West Nile Virus.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Thomas Flahive of Engine Co. 108, was vacationing in Wisconsin two weeks ago when a mosquito bit him on the neck.

Upon returning to work, Flahive, who was 58 and a member of the Fire Department since 1989, started feeling flu-like symptoms, said department spokesman Larry Langford.

Flahive was examined and admitted to an area hospital where his condition worsened.

He later slipped into a coma, suffered irreversible brain damage, and eventually succumbed to the virus at 6:30 pm Thursday at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

“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.

Fox News reports that after Flahive’s passing, the firefighter’s family has decided to donate his brain to science so scientists can figure out more about the West Nile virus and how it affects the human body.

“Tom has given a lot in his life and he continues to give…that is the nature of Tom,” Nielsen quoted Flahive’s family as saying.

Flahive is survived by a wife and three sons.

Before Thomas Flahive’s death, six people in Illinois died from the mosquito-borne west nile virus in 2012.

There have been 179 people with confirmed cases, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

CBS Chicago has more on lieutenant Thomas Flahive tragic death in the video below: