The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that laboratory testing has confirmed a case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus infection in a female over the age of 50 who is a resident of southern Bristol County. This is the fourth human case of EEE in Massachusetts this year.
The woman, who was identified as Laurie Sylvia in a Facebook post, passed away Sunday afternoon.
The DPH is urging all residents throughout Massachusetts to continue and use mosquito repellent and those in high and critical risk communities should consider staying indoors during the dusk to dawn hours to reduce exposure to mosquitoes.
EEE is a rare but serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. EEE occurs sporadically in Massachusetts.
EEE virus has been found in 333 mosquito samples this year, many of them from species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people.
In a moving Facebook post, her daughter shared:
Today I had to say goodbye to my best friend. My mum was my favorite person in the world. She brought light and joy to everyone she came across. She would be there for anyone at anytime. Her smile was contagious. Her jokes were priceless. She was the life of the party. She knew how to have fun and taught me how important it was to love with all you’ve got and live life to the fullest. She was the best Mimi anyone could ask for. I am grateful for the memories my children will carry. She was such a beautiful soul. I don’t know where to go from here. I just don’t understand how such a beautiful person could be taken from me so soon. I wasn’t done. Each day going forward I will see her smile in my mind, live and love with everything I have. I will honor her memory and find myself again. I have so much of her inside of me. My heart hurts beyond words. Thank you to everyone for their prayers. Mum, I hope you find the beach in heaven. I’ll meet you there one day 💕
The victim was the wife of local union boss Robert Sylvia Jr, ABC6 reported.
Fairhaven woman is said to have contracted the EEE virus, according to a social media post. https://t.co/zXWh8rxRkW— ABC6 News Desk (@ABC6) August 25, 2019
"For the last several days we were hopeful that with the best possible care from the Doctors and Staff at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, she would be able to recover," Teamsters Local 59 said in a since removed Facebook post on Saturday.
"We have just learned that this will not be the case. Laurie's condition has deteriorated and regrettably, the family is now preparing for the worst."
They later added: "It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we inform you Laurie Sylvia has passed away. All of us here at Teamsters Local 59 extend our sincere and deepest sympathies to Bob and his family."
Information including all West Nile virus and EEE positive results can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.