Chicago fire lieutenant dies from West Nile Virus - FOX 32 News Chicago

Chicago fire lieutenant dies from West Nile Virus

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A Chicago Fire Department lieutenant bitten by a mosquito about two weeks ago died Thursday night from the West Nile Virus.

The mosquito bit Lt. Thomas Flahive, 58, during a family trip to Wisconsin two weeks ago, Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said.

The men of Engine Company 108 from the Milwaukee and Laramie firehouse said they never thought a big, strapping guy like Flahive would lose his life because of a mosquito bite.

According to officials, he was bitten by a carrier mosquito and started exhibiting flu-like symptoms. He later slipped into a coma, suffered irreversible brain damage and did not survive.

Friday was a tough day for firefighters who knew that their brother was sick and in the hospital for a couple of weeks, but they never imagined this would happen to him.They said he had a lot of character, big personality, so they are all very saddened by this.

Flahive joined the fire department in November 1989.

People who live in the neighborhood do not necessarily know him directly but they know his other family.

"I didn't know him individually, but like I say, all the firemen here, they are out for everything," one Jefferson Park resident said. "You see them all the time. There have been quite a few sick people in the neighborhood and you see the fire truck and ambulance almost every other day. It's sad."

Flahive's death will be felt by many in the community.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Faith, and three adult children, Langford said.

Chicago Fire Department Chaplain Fr. Thomas Mulchrone said in a statement that Flahive continues to give for others after death.

His 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.

Services are still pending as of Friday morning.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed 179 human cases of West Nile Virus in 2012, resulting in six deaths.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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