A rare and deadly mosquito-borne virus led a Michigan grandfather to go from “perfectly healthy to brain dead” in nine days.
Gregg McChesney, 64, of Kalamazoo County, died unexpectedly last month, his obituary stated.
“He was perfectly healthy, happy human being and within a matter of nine days he went from perfectly healthy to brain dead,” his younger brother Mark McChesney told WOOD.
Mark explained his older brother had been building docks at a farm earlier that summer when he suddenly fell ill.
“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 said. “Right off the bat, we were like, ‘How could this happen? What did happen?'”
Doctors later discovered that Gregg had been infected with Eastern equine encephalitis, a rare virus contracted by a mosquito.
He is just one of seven people in Michigan who contracted EEE in July and one of three that died of the disease, according to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services.
“Michigan is currently experiencing its worst Eastern Equine Encephalitis outbreak in more than a decade,” the agency’s Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said in a statement.
People who have been affected by EEE might notice fever, chills, aches, headaches, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis, like Gregg did.
“He was a great guy. He loved life,” said Mark. “I don’t think he would have any regrets. I don’t think so because he found himself.”
Following a 33-year-long career at the Western Michigan University, Gregg went on to pursue his passion in the arts. He worked in his own studio and had hosted local arts shows.
He also enjoyed outdoor activities, including backpacking and fishing.
Officials are now warning people in areas affected by both human and animal cases of EEE to avoid being outdoors around dusk, like late evening sports practices or outdoor music events.
People between the ages of 15 and 50 are at high risk of EEE, and 33% of people who contract the disease die, officials said.