POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A family is mourning a man they called a great father and brother. He died after contracting Hepatitis A in Polk County.
His family is hoping his death will serve as a hard lesson to protect you from the virus that infects the liver.
“We got extremely close the last few years, and I’m thankful for that,” Shari Roberts said.
She was a proud big sister. Her brother Tracy Sells was a smart, loving family man and spent any time he had with his boys. Together they were in Boy Scouts, worked on projects and had plenty of adventures.
Generally a healthy guy, Sells one day started feeling sick.
“We just thought he had the flu or something. He just didn’t feel good. He knew he didn’t feel right for a few days but he thought it was a stomach bug or something,” Roberts said.
It was much worse than a stomach bug. It was a liver bug: Hepatitis A. He spent weeks going to hospitals and getting treatment, but the end for Sells came June 20.
“The hardest thing was watching his kid’s mom call them and tell them they had to come home, and I had to call my mom and dad and I had to tell them,” said Roberts.
The family may never know where Sells picked up Hep A.
“People eat out all the time. That’s the way we are now, and we’re assuming that’s where it happened. Somewhere he ate out,” said Roberts.
Roberts urges adults to get the two-part vaccine and remember to wash their hands.
“If telling my brother’s story can save somebody else than it’s worth it. And that’s honoring him,” Roberts said.
The Polk County Health Department says numbers for Hep A cases are up this year – 21 since January – but lower compared to surrounding counties.