Family says West Nile virus suddenly killed Metro Detroit grandfather

84-year-old man suddenly fell ill, family says, died weeks later from West Nile virus


DETROIT – Lisa Saavedra held back tears as she talked about her grandfather, Genaro Saavedra.

"He was the one who put together everyone as a family," she said. "Hard to accept that he's gone."

Family members say Genaro was a healthy 84-year-old man who spent a lot of time working outside in his yard. However, just two weeks ago he fell sick.

"We weren't sure what was wrong with him," Lisa said. "He went into the hospital for a fever. We thought in a couple of days he would be out of the hospital."

Watch: CDC: 38 states have human West Nile Virus infections

Doctors didn't know what was wrong. Genaro was out of the hospital for just a few hours before his fever became worse. So, his granddaughters took him back to the hospital. After a few days, doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found Genaro had the West Nile virus.

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"We never thought that it was the West Nile virus," said Alma Plancarte, Genaro's granddaughter. "It never crossed our minds. At first, they said it was pneumonia, then long infection, then meningitis."

Genaro died Aug. 19. It took the Saavedra family by surprise. They say it happened so fast. Just two weeks ago they had a very vibrant, active grandfather. Now, suddenly, his family is having to say goodbye.


"I'm comforted because he always lived the word of God, and I know he's in a better place," said Plancarte.

Genaro's funeral was Wednesday.

More: West Nile outbreak largest ever in U.S.


-- Genaro Saavedra as a young man.