INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- A metro father is in shock. His 8-year-old son died mysteriously on Tuesday, now the little boy's possible cause of death has his family reeling.
Dennis Burd got sick last weekend and his parents figured it was the flu. The little boy's condition got worse on Tuesday and his parents took him to the emergency room. He died a few hours later. A preliminary autopsy of the 8-year-old shows he might have been sick with the West Nile Virus.
"We were just laying down watching TV, he cuddled up to me," Larry Burd said.
It's the last loving memory the dad had with his son Dennis. The boy was active and healthy, and loved playing outside with his dad but that all stopped when he started feeling very sick last weekend.
"We did like everyone else would do, give him Tylenol and keep his temperature down," Burd said.
But on Tuesday, Dennis started having breathing problems and was complaining of back pain, to the point he could no longer walk. His parents rushed him to the ER.
"That's where we lost him," the dad said.
Within a matter of two hours, Dennis was pronounced dead. Only three days have passed and Larry and his wife are in shock. They're making funeral arrangements for their healthy little boy.
"I'm just sad and in total myst... I don't know what happened," he said.
Wednesday, they got a call from the medical examiner who said Dennis had pneumonia in both lungs and symptoms that match up with West Nile. Though it will take more testing to know for sure, doctors told the family their son could've caught the virus from a mosquito, while playing outside.
"Who would even think about that? Just go play in the backyard and end up with something like that," Burd said.
He holds his favorite picture of him and his son tight. He wishes he could've protected his son, and warns parents to be diligent.
"Keep an eye on your kids. Even if they don't show signs of anything, take them to the doctor. Get them checked out," he said.
The medical examiner has sent Dennis' information to the Centers for Disease Control. His parents say it could be another six months before they know for sure what happened.