Larry Burd still doesn’t understand how he lost his son, especially so quickly.
"He never showed signs that he was having trouble breathing or anything,” said the Independence father of six. "He was just so healthy. He might have been rambunctious, but he never had any health issues like that … [He] always wanted to play, go outside."
Burd’s 8-year-old son, Dennis, came down with a fever Saturday, May 20. By Tuesday night he had passed.
Burd first managed his son’s fever with over-the-counter medication and thought Dennis was improving. But it was Tuesday evening when Burd said Dennis went “downhill” fast.
"He said he was in so much pain he couldn't stand up. He hit the floor crying,” said Burd.
The Independence father rushed his son to the emergency room at nearby Centerpoint. Doctors quickly diagnosed Dennis with bi-lateral Pneumonia. However, Dennis’s symptoms included not only a fever, but also backaches and vomiting before he went into seizures – all symptoms of the deadly West Nile virus.
Burd said it was after the second seizure when he realized his son was gone.
"He just laid back and his eyes rolled back in his head and he passed away right then and there,” he said.
According to Burd, Dennis was in the process of being transported to Children’s Mercy, but never made it out of the hospital before his second seizure killed him. Dennis died within three hours of arriving at the hospital.
"They did an EKG but he had a seizure before that happened, which he's never had in his short life span, ever,” said Burd.
Burd told 41 Action News that doctors informed him that Dennis may have had a genetic heart condition that couldn’t withstand the seizures. But what made Dennis sick initially is the big mystery. Burd fears it may have been West Nile. However, considering medical professionals told him it may be weeks, or months, until they can confirm what contributed to Dennis’s death, he’s simply speechless.
"There's really not much … I can say …” said Burd.
The West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted through mosquitos. According to the CDC, while 70 to 80 percent of people with the virus don’t show any symptoms, the virus has killed roughly 2,000 people since 1999 in the United States.
Dennis will be laid to rest on Tuesday, May 30. There is a GoFundMe that has been set up to support the family with expenses, which you can find here.