By Madeline Farber
Published November 19, 2019
A Michigan farmer who contracted the dangerous mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) over the summer has died, according to local reports.
The deceased, identified by local news station WNDU as Jim Whitright of Eau Claire, died Saturday after suffering complications related to the virus. A spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the death of the Berrien County resident to Fox News on Tuesday but declined to provide any further details.
A GoFundMe in Whitright’s name says he became “very sick” with fever on Aug. 19. He was rushed to a local emergency room “where his symptoms worsened very quickly.” He remained in the hospital for four weeks before he was transferred to a long-term care facility. According to WNDU, he passed away at a hospital.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, describes EEE as “one of a group of mosquito-transmitted viruses that can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).”
Symptoms typically appear about four to 10 days after the bite, with severe cases progressing to encephalitis. Patients may experience high fever, stiff neck, severe headache and lack of energy. Approximately one-third of patients who contract EEE will die, and there is no specific treatment for the virus. Health officials said the only way to protect against the virus is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
As of Nov. 13, the federal health agency said it has received reports of 36 confirmed EEE cases, including 13 deaths. Massachusetts has seen the most cases this year, 12, while Michigan follows closely behind with 10 cases.