According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, four people have died after contracting Eastern Equine Encephalitis or (EEE), a virus that is spread by mosquitos.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, EEE virus “is a rare cause of brain infections (encephalitis)”:
Only a few cases are reported in the United States each year. Most occur in eastern or Gulf Coast states. Approximately 30% of people with EEE die and many survivors have ongoing neurologic problems.
The most recent victim of EEE has been identified as 59-year-old Laurie Sylvia. According to People, Sylvia’s husband of 40 years, Robert, said his wife died just six days after she fell ill.
She started feeling sick on August 19. Her daughter, Jen, took to Facebook following her mother’s unexpected passing:
Today I had to say goodbye to my best friend. My mum was my favorite person in the world. She brought light and joy to…
Jen wrote, in part:
Today I had to say goodbye to my best friend. My mum was my favorite person in the world. She brought light and joy to everyone she came across. She would be there for anyone at anytime. Her smile was contagious. Her jokes were priceless. She was the life of the party. She knew how to have fun and taught me how important it was to love with all you’ve got and live life to the fullest.
She was the best Mimi anyone could ask for. I am grateful for the memories my children will carry. She was such a beautiful soul. I don’t know where to go from here.
As the CDC reports, signs and symptoms of EEE can include “fever, headache, irritability, restlessness, drowsiness, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, cyanosis, convulsions, and coma.”
Symptoms can occur anywhere from four to 10 days after a human is bitten by an infected mosquito. As People reports, mosquitos carrying EEE are often found in Massachusetts, Florida, New York, and North Carolina. However, EEE is very rare, with only a few cases being detected every year.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has also issued a warning for people to apply bug repellant when they are outside, but also stay indoors when they can:
All residents throughout the Commonwealth should continue to use mosquito repellent and those in high and critical risk communities should consider staying indoors during the dusk to dawn hours to reduce exposure to mosquitoes.
As NBC 10 reports, the state has been spraying communities in an attempt to control the mosquito population.