A MAN went from healthy to brain dead in just nine days after catching a mosquito-borne virus, his brother has revealed.
Gregg McChesney, 64, suffered a seizure but died two weeks after contracting Eastern equine encephalitis.
His brother Mark McChesney, from Michigan, told CNN affiliate WOOD Gregg had been a “perfectly healthy, happy human being”.
“…Within a matter of nine days he went from perfectly healthy to brain dead,” he said.
“All of a sudden he had a seizure and next thing you know, he’s in the ER and he just never came out of it.”
Mark says his family has been left baffled at his brother’s shock death and questioned how it could have happened.
“We just didn’t know and the doctors were just doing everything they could to try to say it was this or that, and they just couldn’t figure it out,” he said.
Mark said he was working with his brother at his farm a less than a month before his death on August 19.
He described him as a man who “loved life, who scared off a bear when they were backpacking and who gave a 25-minute toast at his little brother’s wedding”.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has since confirmed a total of seven cases of Eastern equine encephalitis in Southwest Michigan, including three deaths.
The virus, known as triple E (EEEV) or sleeping sickness, is a rare cause of brain infections spread to people by infected mosquitoes.
While there’s only an average of seven cases of the virus reported in the US each year, it’s known to be fatal about 30 per cent of the the time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency said on its website: “Persons over age 50 and under age 15 seem to be at greatest risk for developing severe disease when infected with EEEV.
“EEEV infection can result in one of two types of illness, systemic or encephalitic (involving swelling of the brain, referred to below as EEE).
“The type of illness will depend on the age of the person and other host factors.”
Know the signs
People who contract the virus typically start to notice symptoms about four to 10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, according to the CDC.
These include a fever, headache, chills, diarrhoea and irritability.
The agency says: “Death usually occurs two to 10 days after onset of symptoms but can occur much later.
“Of those who recover, many are left with disabling and progressive mental and physical sequelae, which can range from minimal brain dysfunction to severe intellectual impairment, personality disorders, seizures, paralysis, and cranial nerve dysfunction.
“Many patients with severe sequelae die within a few years.”
What are the symptoms of encephalitis?
Encephalitis is a serious condition which causes the sufferer’s brain to swell.
It can be life threatening and and requires urgent treatment in hospital.
Anyone can be affected by the disease but the very young and elderly are most at risk.
According to the NHS website, symptoms can start off flu-like – including a high temperature and headache – but this isn’t always the case.
More serious symptoms develop over hours, days or weeks, including:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Changes in personality and behaviour
- Difficulty speaking
- Weakness or loss of movement in some parts of the body
- Loss of consciousness
If someone has any of these more serious symptoms, dial 999 immediately.
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Dr Joneigh Khaldun, director and health officer for the Detroit Health Department, said: “Michigan is currently experiencing its worst Eastern Equine Encephalitis outbreak in more than a decade.
“The ongoing cases reported in humans and animals and the severity of this disease illustrate the importance of taking precautions against mosquito bites.”
It comes after the mosquito-borne virus was detected in chickens in Florida.
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