Massachusetts woman dies of mosquito-borne virus

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A woman has died after she was infected with a rare disease spread by mosquitoes.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said a fourth human case of the Eastern equine encephalitis virus was confirmed by laboratory testing. Tufts Medical Center said one patient died of EEE at the hospital.

WCVB reports a family is grieving the death of Laurie Sylvia, a 59-year-old realtor from Bristol County.

“Today I had to say goodbye to my best friend. My mum was my favorite person in the world,” Sylvia’s daughter Jen wrote on Facebook. “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.”

In an interview with the news station, her son echoed the sentiment, saying her character was of the highest caliber.

“I’m 29 years old and I can’t even think of a time (when) she raised her voice and yelled. Everybody she met, she, you know, she made an impact on,” said Bobby Sylvia.

The health department said 37 Massachussetts communities have been found to be at high or critical risk for the EEE virus.

EEE is a rare, but serious infection that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The disease can cause encephalitis or swelling of the brain and sometimes be fatal. About 30 percent of people who contract EEE die, according to the CDC. About seven cases in humans are reported each year.

Health officials are asking all residence throughout the commonweath to continue to use mosquito repellant, and that those in high and critical risk communities consider staying indoors during the dusk to dawn hours to reduce exposure to mosquitoes.

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