BOSTON (KFDX/KJTL) — A woman in Boston who was being treated for a rare but dangerous mosquito-borne virus has died.
Kimberly Bookman explains the risks of contracting Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
59-year old Laurie Sylvia is the 4th person in the state of Massachusetts to contract EEE this year.
Her co-worker at Pelletier Realty in New Bedford says she fell ill two weeks ago, was officially diagnosed with the mosquito-borne virus Friday and died two days later on Sunday.
Dr. Catherine Brown, MA department of health, said, “it is a really serious disease. We see a mortality rate of approximately 40% and 80% of the survivors are left with some level of permanent neurological impairment.”
Health officials say EEE (triple-e) usually comes about 3 to 10 days after someone is bit by a mosquito.
It’s not clear when that happened to Sylvia. On most days, her colleagues say she worked selling homes in Southern Massachusetts or was with her family in Fairhaven.
She was married for 40 years, was a mother of three, grandmother of 6. Her daughter Jen posted a tribute to her on facebook that reads: “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. I just don’t understand how such a beautiful person could be taken from me so soon.”
Dr. Catherine Brown said, “the disease starts with a fever, headache, chills really not feeling well but because this is a virus that invades the central nervous system – the brain, you’ll see a rapid progression to loss of consciousness, seizures, coma and perhaps even to fatality.”
This year is the first time since 2013 that people in Massachusetts have been diagnosed with EEE (triple-e).
Health officials say they’ve found the virus in 333 mosquito samples this year, many of them capable of spreading the virus to humans.
Several communities including Sylvia’s town of Fairhaven are doing aerial spraying. They’re also restricting outdoor activity from dusk till dawn when mosquitos are most active.
A state epidemiologist says warmer temperatures and above-average rainfall in July sped up virus replication in mosquitoes, which could explain the uptick in triple-e activity.