NORWALK (CBSLA.com) — LA County health officials have just confirmed the first West Nile virus death in 2015.
Due to health privacy laws, the news media rarely learns anything about the people who die from this infection.
On Tuesday evening, a family of another man who died from the illness decided to speak out to KCAL9’s Andrea Fujii.
It’s a story that is Only On 9.
It was just a month ago that 75-year-old Frank Hayes was playing with his great-granddaughter outside of his Norwalk home.
Now his wife of 48 years — Oyetta Hayes — is planning his funeral.
“I lost my husband, my best friend, the father of my children,” Oyetta said.
Hayes’ family is still in shock at how he died.
Three weeks ago, they said he had what seemed like the flu. Days later, he was in the hospital in a coma.
“They tested literally from a to z — all these different diseases and West Nile came back positive,” says granddaughter Alyxandra Ponce.
Hayes died on September 10.
They asked the doctor how it could happen.
“He told me, no doubt about it, it would have had to come from a mosquito,” said Ponce.
LA County Department of Public Health announced the first confirmed death from West Nile this year — an elderly man from the San Gabriel Valley. Because of privacy reason, they couldn’t confirm if Hayes’ death was the second.
Oyetta says he was in good health and showed Fujii the backyard where he liked to spend a lot of time. There was no standing water — a place where mosquitoes are found.
So the family is left with questions.
“Maybe I could have accepted it better if it was a heart attack, a stroke, cancer, anything. But a mosquito bite?,” says Oyetta.
More than anything, they wanted to alert the public to the dangers.
“It’s not make believe, it can really happen,” said Ponce.