EEE victim dead in 9 days, from ‘perfectly healthy to brain-dead,' brother said

WILLIAMSTON, Mich. — When a Michigan man in August contracted Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), a rare mosquito-borne virus that can cause a fatal brain infection, in August, his family said the virus killed him in just over a week.

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Kalamazoo resident Gregg McChesney, 64, was one of five victims nationwide who died from the potentially deadly virus this year.

McChesney's death happened quickly, his brother told WOOD-TV.

“Late July, he was here at the farm, helping me put docks in at the pond,” Mark McChesney said.

“He was a perfectly healthy, happy human being, and within a matter of nine days, he went from perfectly healthy to brain-dead. 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.”

Doctors did not immediately know what had sickened Gregg McChesney, WOOD reported.

“Right off the bat, we were like, ‘How could this happen? What did happen?’” Mark McChesney said.

“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.”

Doctors didn't diagnose EEE in McChesney until several days after his death, the news station reported.

Michigan is experiencing its worst outbreak of EEE in more than 10 years. So far, state health officials have confirmed seven cases and three deaths.

Two other deaths from the mosquito-borne illness have been reported in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and cases of EEE have been diagnosed this year in at least four states.

Only a handful of EEE cases are reported every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but of those cases about 30% die and survivors can have ongoing neurological problems.