GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — On Aug. 29, Bill started getting headaches. The next morning, the Barry County man woke up having major seizures.
Bill was quickly airlifted to Bronson Hospital where he was put on a ventilator and a medically induced coma.
The diagnosis: Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
The mosquito-borne disease is one of the most dangerous with a 33% fatality rate in humans. Barry County was one of the first Michigan counties to have confirmed cases of EEE this fall.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services first alerted the public on Aug. 26 when they confirmed that six horses in Barry, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties died from the disease.
It has a latency period of four to 10 days in humans.
Bill spent three weeks in the ICU at Bronson Hospital before he was transferred to Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids. He originally was barely able to move his arms or legs and needed help on daily tasks.
Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, and body and joint aches. But it can develop into severe encephalitis, swelling of the brain, resulting in headaches, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur.
In Michigan, four people have died from it this year and there have been 10 human cases.
After spending three weeks in intensive rehabilitation, Bill gained the ability to walk and talk again. He will be graduating from rehabilitation earlier than expected and leaving the hospital on Wednesday.
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