Barry Co. man with EEE to be released from Mary Free Bed

Barry County
A courtesy photo of Jeff Wescott of Barry County, who is suspected to have Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

A courtesy photo of Jeff Wescott of Barry County, who contracted Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Barry County man who was Michigan’s first confirmed case of Eastern equine encephalitis in 2020 is going home.

Jeff Wescott, 58, of Hastings, will be released from Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital Friday. He’ll continue to recover at home.

Mary Free Bed said Wescott’s symptoms appeared in late August. He was soon hospitalized at Spectrum Health and was in a coma for a time. He moved to Mary Free Bed Sept. 12.

“His physical stamina has really improved,” his wife Tina Wescott said in a Thursday statement provided by Mary Free Bed. “He has a ways to go, but I know he will get back to where he was before.”

EEE is a mosquito-borne illness that, while rare, can often prove fatal when its symptoms become serious. It’s nearly always deadly for horses, but there is a vaccine for horses and not one for people.

Another human case of EEE is suspected in Montcalm County, and the state has confirmed the virus in 32 horses in 13 counties.

The state has conducted aerial mosquito sprays in several West Michigan counties in the past few weeks, but the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services tweeted Thursday that no more had been lined up.

Health officials urge everyone to take action to protect themselves from the virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile Virus, which 15 people in Michigan, including News 8 reporter Barton Deiters, have contracted.

You should wear mosquito repellent with DEET, wear long sleeves and pants outdoors, and avoid being outdoors around dusk and at night. You should also make sure your window screens are in good repair to keep the pests out of your home.

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